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Site Graphics and Multimedia Design Forum

AOL compression of Jpegs
Is it a concern?

10+ Year Member

Msg#: 402 posted 11:36 pm on Jul 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've heard about how AOL puts jpegs thru a compression manager before the browser renders them. Has anyone ever seen a side-by-side comparison of how this affects renderings of jpegs of human subjects?

I'm into digital photography and I'd like to know if this could be portraying my photos in a "less than favorable light"?



I just did some google searching on this topic and came across a site with a before-and-after example of a jpeg put thru AOL's compression.

YIKES! If this is true, then my AOL surfers have been looking at CRAP!

Can anyone say whether or not such results are really as striking as this website claims?




WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 402 posted 2:15 am on Aug 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

I haven't looked at the link, but yes, you are correct. I had an AOL account to test stuff with; I gave up on it because any efforts to optimize for AOL were futile.

Even if the jpg is completely optimized, AOL will run it through a filter that can really mess up your image - Savings: none - quality: lost.

You can test it if you have an AOL account (or a friend with the account). Serve up your page, right click, properties...You'll see what I mean.

Now when are they switching to Mozilla?


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 402 posted 3:17 am on Aug 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

I never got too scientific about it but I found that using no less than 64 color palettes on .gifs and compression a little less than I would like on .jpegs will do ok with AOL. AOL uses their own compression and it usually destroys color graduations pretty well.


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 402 posted 3:51 pm on Aug 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

There is only one sure-fire way to work around this (since you cannot force AOL users to turn of compression), and that is to use a 2 frame animated gif with the same picture in both frames. AOL's compression cannot change an animated gif.

As an additional option, you can use a browser detect javascript that sees if your visitor is using AOL, then pops up a window that gives them step by step instructions on how to "turn off" compressed graphics, so that they can see what the web is supposed to look like. Compressed graphics is the default setting on all new AOL accounts, and has to be manually turned off.

The reason AOL does this is to conserve their bandwidth. All of their users access the internet through proxy servers. If several other AOL users have previously visited any web-site, AOL tries to conserve bandwidth by compressing the images, and cacheing them on their servers.


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 402 posted 2:15 pm on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks for everyone's input.

That's an interesting trick concerning the animated Gifs.

I'm now interested in an AOL browser sniffer... But I'll post that question in the Browser forum.


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