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Does Olark slow my page down?

The Olark chat box loads asynchronously - meaning that it loads “in the background”, and should not block the loading of the rest of your site’s content.

There are cases where it may seem like Olark is slowing your site down. For reference, we have collected the most common questions we get about Olark and page speed like:

  • Why does Olark load so many resources, even after the chat box has finished loading?

  • Why does my site seem to be faster when I remove the Olark code snippet?

  • Why is Google PageSpeed Insights telling me that Olark resources need fixing?

Why does Olark load so many resources, even after the chat box has finished loading?

In the Network tab of your browser Developer Tools on your site, you may notice many of the row items from the domain '' continue to appear long after your site and the Olark chat box have finished loading.

Olark poll requests

Those are Olark’s poll requests, and they are what put the “live” in Olark live chat. Olark’s poll requests are NOT resources (aka files) that your site is trying to download. They are requests sent from the chat box to Olark’s servers, and they should have zero impact on how your site loads.

These requests send information between the chat box and Olark’s servers about the visitor’s and agent’s online/offline status, new messages, etc.

Why does my site seem to be faster when I remove the Olark code snippet?

A common cause of this issue is when your website is trying to download too many (non-Olark) image or script resources at once from the same domain.

All modern browsers have a limit on the number of resources (e.g. images or scripts) that can download at the same time. The “HTTP connection limit” for popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox is 6. For example if your site needs to download 10 images in a row, the first 6 will start downloading in parallel. Leaving the last 4 images or resources (including Olark) to download once the first 6 finish loading.

When this happens, Olark’s script can get caught in the bottleneck and appear as the cause of your website’s slowness, according to your browser.

This is why your site may appear to be faster when you remove Olark’s code snippet. Your site's resources could be optimized further even without Olark. But adding Olark on top of things ends up being the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Here’s how you can check this for your own site:

Not familiar with Developer Tools?

Sharing this help article with your team’s developer(s) can be a great help!

  • Open your website in a new tab, and then open the Network panel of Developer Tools.

  • Enter “olark” in the search field to see when Olark’s resources are loading in the timeline.

Filtered for Olark resources only

  • Remove “olark” from the search field to see all your site’s resources unfiltered again.

  • Then, click the Time column to sort your site’s resources in order of longest to shortest download time.

Resources sorted by download time

  • Take note of which of your site’s resources are taking the longest time to download. Also, make mental note of where in the timeline they are loading.

  • If other resources are loading around the same time as Olark’s resources are trying to load (from Step 2 above), that’s a good sign that there are inefficiencies in how your site load images and/or scripts. Those inefficiencies can create bottlenecks in your site speed that Olark can get caught in.

Here are two Google approved best practices that will speed up your site in general and cut the possibility of bottlenecks due to Olark:

  • Images:

One might consider loading images from different subdomains, or creating an image sprite for your smaller images which will need one HTTP request, instead of many.

Check out Google’s guide to image optimization for more info.

  • Scripts:

If it’s a large (non-Olark) script that seems to be causing issues, you can try (1) moving the script to the bottom of your page before the tag if you haven’t already, or (2) making the script asynchronous.

Check out Google’s guide to fixing render-blocking javascript for more info.

Why is Google PageSpeed Insights telling me that Olark resources need fixing?

Browser caching can boost page speed because retrieving a resource locally from the browser cache is faster and more consistent than having to retrieve it over the internet each time.

For that reason, 3rd party speed test tools will flag resources that have short cache times. Google recommends “a minimum cache time of one week and up to one year for static assets, or assets that rarely change.” (Source)

PageSpeed Insights browser caching

Yet, the Olark chat box is not static - it is regularly updated and improved. The Olark chat box has short cache times. When customers make changes to their settings or when we roll out important new changes to the chat box, we want your website visitors to see those changes as soon as possible.

That’s why we don’t plan on increasing those cache times. If anything, we are trying to make those numbers (i.e. 45 minutes and 3 hours) even smaller in the future.

That’s why you can ignore when 3rd party speed tests flag Olark for short cache times. These are some of the most popular 3rd party diagnostic tools for testing page speed, and they all test for caching headers and cache times:

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