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gzip compression and IE do not mix

We had a problem at work the other day where the CSS and HTML files were being returned from the server with no content. We restarted the development server, but the problem still persisted. ColdFusion templates were being returned, but the CSS files litterally had no content. So we fired up IE HTTP Analyzer, and the content was seen perfectly fine -- it was being retrieved from the server. However, the HTTP Analyzer was showing us that the files were being compressed. Someone had turned on gzip compression on the server. It turns out there is a bug with Internet Explorer that stops it from properly decompressing gzip compressed files. We turned off gzip compression on the server, and it all worked fine (of course, it worked in Mozilla/Firefox anyway). There has been a fix released by Microsoft addressing this, but we hadn't applied it at work (for whatever reason).

By Blogger jim, at 1/24/2006 12:13:00 am  

You fail to mention what version of IIS and IE you are using. HTTP compression is used by many many sites to conserve bandwidth and create a better user experience. If this were a widespread problem I'm sure it would have recieved media attention. I suspect that your IIS server is misconfigured. I have seen this happen before. Instructions for configuring your IIS server to enable compression are available at

By Blogger Darryl Lyons, at 1/24/2006 04:56:00 am  

Jim, it is a problem with certain versions of Internet Explorer - in our case IE 6.0 SP1. The server in question was using IIS 5.0.

Inspection of the HTTP packet showed that it was indeed compressed using gzip, and it worked fine in Mozilla. Perhaps it was misconfigured, but I would have expected all browsers to fail, not just IE.

By Blogger Darryl Lyons, at 1/24/2006 05:05:00 am  

Also.. A google search did show up some problems with IE and gzip compression (not http compression using other methods).

Anyway, I'll do some more investigation on the matter.

By Blogger jim, at 1/25/2006 08:45:00 am  

This post may be of use to you :
he mentions thay yahoo maps uses gzip compression so that would indicate that theres no fundamental problem with it..
this link in general may provide you with more information:

By Blogger Darryl Lyons, at 1/25/2006 06:58:00 pm  

Jim, although I am not trying to be difficult, I can't see why that post would be of relevance, except from the fact that he is saying the the site he was connecting to used gzip compression.... You are right, if it were a widespread problem, then we certainly would have heard about it by now. I'm suggesting that it is probably in *some* instances that this occurs. I'm not convinced that it was a misconfiguration given it worked perfectly in Mozilla and a HTTP sniffer. If it was a misconfiguration of IIS, then that surely still points to a bug in IE, if IE was the only "browser" to not render the content.

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