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September 10, 2009

Google Earth 5.1 Is Faster

Google's 3D Earth browser has been updated and the latest build, 5.1.3506.3999, loads faster and it's snappier.

"We've made a lot of adjustments under the hood, like improving memory utilization so we can show more buildings, layers, and user content. We improved our shaders (that's graphics-speak for small programs that run inside your graphics processor) to make the atmosphere draw faster. We also worked to reduce stuttering (known as frame drops) to provide an even smoother experience as you fly around the globe. When we draw imagery, we now use compression technology to use less memory and graphics resources. We know that waiting for a program to start-up can be really frustrating, so we improved our start-up time by 25%," mentions Google LatLong blog.

While the performance improvement is noticeable, Google Earth continues to use a lot of resources. In a small empirical test, I compared the latest release with an earlier version and the results are even better than Google's claims:

Google Earth version Start-up time Memory usage when searching for "Paris"
Google Earth 5.0.11337.1968 11.5 seconds 183 MB
Google Earth 5.0.11733.9347 10.4 seconds 164 MB
Google Earth 5.1.3506.3999 6.9 seconds 145 MB

Update: If you want to download Google Earth without installing Google Updater, here's the direct download link for Windows. This build includes the plug-in for IE/Firefox/Chrome that lets you use Google Earth inside a browser. That means you'll end up with three different Google Earth versions when you upgrade: the old version, which for some reason is not removed, the new version of Google Earth and the plug-in, which wastes 33 MB by including separate copies of the files used by Google Earth.


  1. How fitting, remembering the picture from your previous post:
    "Why is Google Earth so slow"

  2. Yes it may be true as you are using high end computer.
    But the loading speed is same as older versions in my computer.

  3. Wow... previously as well the Google earth was more powerful and now onwards its upgraded features are surely making it more and most stronger than the other mapper...

    Its really awesome.

  4. So does the OS X version also include the Google Updater? I hate this thing?

  5. i have never been able to run earth. i am using XP SP3 with 1.6ghz processor and 2gig RAM. i tried to install the latest version today and got the same result as the last version:

    I tried to run the install file, it told me I don’t have admin privileges (this happens when I attempt to update CCleaner too). Ok, so then I saved the file and ran it, the install was successful, as it was the previous version. So I ran the program from the desktop icon, and the computer automatically restarted itself. Ok, so when it finished starting up, I ran earth again from the icon. Same thing happened as the previous version, it locked up. No mouse, no computer action, not even the 3-finger salute got me out of it, as with the previous version. So now I am going to uninstall it AGAIN.

    why would earth lock up all the time, within 10 seconds of starting the program? ANY info would be appreciated, i would love to be able to use earth as i am trying to move.


  6. I have noticed a lack of resolution as time goes on. I have photos saved from 3-4 years ago which are better than what I can view today. My computers have only gotten better. It's not always the case though. I can go outside the county and view stunning imagery but go back to my neighborhood and get lousy fuzzy imagery. Yes, I have all the correct settings and drivers. I have cleared out the cache and reinstalled Google Earth with the same results. What has happen to the resolution? Even street view seems to be effected. I get the same result whether I am at work on the desktop or laptop, at home on the desktop or laptop, in my truck on the laptop, or even at my fathers house on his. What gives. If it wasn't the fact I have stored photos from the past I would have though I was loosing my mind.

  7. In five minutes of fooling around, it twice froze completely so that I had nothing to do except kill the program and start again. (Vista Business on an HP DV2000 laptop.)

  8. bill,

    at least you were able to kill the program, i had to restart the computer. NUMEROUS times.

    i wonder if anyone actually monitors this board?

  9. Google Earth is a wonderful tool that puts the world in our hands and lets us get into our house bits of the globe now faster. Thanks Google


  10. Being a long time GE user, the first experience of 5.1 was fantastic. Google avertised improved launc times - my experience beat even that - the application now launches instantly on even an old T40 laptop. The usage feels so light, wherever I go or at whatever angle I view things - they are just there, with much improved loading times.

    Best to describe the experience is to compare it to viewing a printout - its just that fast at least for me. Well done once more!

  11. I can confirm that the program's initial load is faster, however, that said, load times as I move about are much much much slower and takes forever to resolve. Especially when in close. And then, if I move a frame over and back, the old frame has to reload from scratch all over again. I have a 1.5 GHz Celeron M and 2 Gigs of RAM in a Toshiba notebook. At first I was quite disappointed with the new version and I wanted to reload the old program due simply to the odd new function(s) and counter-intuitive placement of the new controls, but, I've learned to adapt and once I realized what was going on, I find the ability to rotate the eye (up or down) from a specific altitude quite useful for planning (and practicing) short landing patterns and glidepath angles, especially at previously unseen airports/airfields I might need to fly into.

  12. i wanna have this application...
    but never succes...
    oh my gosh...

  13. Google earth is a great tool, especially for the price. But, the resolution in 5.1 sucks. I would much rather have lower performance with higher resolution. Also, when running the previous version, adjusting the position of North (by clicking and dragging the the N icon at the top right) occured in real time. Now when I click and drag it takes forever to rotate the Earth into the desired position and it occurs in huge jerks which makes it impossible to control. Main comment though is image quality is BAD in this version. Go BACK!

  14. Do not install version 5.2!!!
    With version 5.2 everything comes to a grinding halt, even on a fast computer. I went back to version 5.1.

  15. RIP version 5. Was s good program. Version 6 is a dead-end upgrade making a powerful GIS software into a souvenir hard to work with

  16. I had no problems with v5.2 until Google quit supporting it with Street View.

    The problems began with installing the current version of v6.2, which would load incomplete displays if started in the default OpenGL mode. If started in DirectX, the earth would start out plain white with no features; zooming in to "normal" scale, things would display OK but if zoomed out, to the scale needed to show the entire USA, all surface features would go to plain white again. I had to backdate to v6.0-something to restore normal function. It still has the awful new version of Street View, but since it is no worse than what's on Google Maps and is easier to use than going back and forth between Earth and browser, I guess I'll have to put up with it until those Googlers make this version unusable, too.


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