Sparrow – the silent killer

It was a while ago that the SparrowEmail App launched. Sparrow is one of those apps which is really addictive, and I was just hooked on to it. I kind of dumped the gmail client in the browser and decided to start using this for all my email consumption.

The Early Signs

Initially, it was all good. But then I started running into a few strange issues. It’s possible that some of them came up because I use email in a way which is different than most users. Each of my emails (yes each and every one of them, for the last 6 years) have been tagged with at least 3 tags. One tag is for the name of the client, one is for the project, and one is for the priority or the importance. This means that I have more tags than you can possibly imagine. The Gmail web app handles them better than I could ever hope. However, this became a problem with the initial version of Sparrow. I used to allocate my tag trio to each email and some time later I would search for the tag and the email would not show up. It took me about a week to realize that the tags were getting lost!

If you’ve used a software like your life depends on it, you know bugs can creep you out a little at a time. My wife would even go on to say that I became angry and irritated. That was when I knew I had to give these guys some more time to fix it.

And of course, they did. But we’ll get back to it later.

Back in love with Chrome

I spend the next month or so using the Gmail web client, and all was good, except when it’s in chrome, it’s easy for the tab to get lost. So I would have multiple windows open at any time, and I couldn’t Cmd+Tab to the email client. This made me a little jealous of all those people happily using Apple Mail and Outlook, even though I knew I could find any email on my system faster than they could on their systems, I still could not reach my email client fast enough.

A Fling with Fluid

It was around this time that I discovered the Fluid App. It kind of reminded me of the old Windows 7 days when I could open up my Gmail Web app is a new browser window and reach it faster than a speeding bullet. So I downloaded Fluid, and quickly installed it. One of it’s coolest features was that when you closed the window, and then opened it again, it opened from the exact same place. For a week, life was beautiful. I cracked more jokes and made friends easily.

Sadly, Fluid had a short life as the app running my email. It was just a tad slower and downloads were not as smooth as chrome. I had very quickly migrated both my WordPress Admins, Basecamp, Gmail and Google Calendar to their own windows on Fluid. However, the more things I added, the slower it kept getting. After some time it reminded me of the sad old browser called Firefox (some of your kids might not even know that it existed, like we never knew until much later than Netscape existed).

So, I was back to Gmail on Chrome.

Falling in love again

One fine day, a few months later, I opened up my email to find a really cool deal for all SumoLings. The AppStore sells Sparrow for $10, these guys were giving it for $6. The difference isn’t much, but I still fell for it.

So, now I had a paid version of Sparrow, and it handled my tags properly, and I was once again completely sold. I just pitched to every person I met, and did manage to sell it to a lot of them as well (including a lot of people at my company). Things were once again good, I guess you know the drill by now.

The sad finish

About a month later, our internet was running slow, and we moved on to a new leased line. However, things didn’t really improve when it happens, and I cussed at Tata Indicom on every chance that I got. It again took us a few days to realize what the problem was. The new leased line had committed hara-kiri due to Sparrow’s magic. The new brand new issues on the Sparrow app were that it took us an indefinite amount of bandwidth and CPU.

Here is the CPU usage, 1 hour after start on my Macbook Pro

This is what it was doing 8 hours after reboot

Sparrow had taken up 180% more than Google Chrome, and 84% more CPU that the second highest most CPU intensive application running on my mac.

Sadly we had to send out a company wide email to stop using Sparrow with immediate effect. I really like this software and I hope soon they fix this issue. Or at least I hope that their iPhone app works better.

Till then, it just me and Chrome.

This entry was tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sparrow – the silent killer

  1. Nakul Kabra says:

    amazing review.. cheers!

  2. Marie Kyle says:

    Don’t know if you know this, but all native email clients (including mail, postbox, etc..) for mac use that much in real mem….not really sure what you are waiting for them to ‘fix’….also chrome has a myriad of little ‘helpers’ that are taking up more cpu power than just the chrome app itself, may need to take that into account before you claim sparrow to be more of a cpu hog than chrome :) . Anyway, would love to see an update on what alternative you’ve found, if any.

    Take care!

  3. This is a misleading article. You drew a wrong conclusion and then shared it publicly misleading others. Sparrow was consuming CPU and bandwidth because you told it to sync your entire mailbox. You didn’t give it enough time to finish this and then complained that it was using the resources needed to finish this task.

    To confirm this is happening goto window > activity and watch as Sparrow is diligently downloading all of your mail. It will even tell you how many messages it has finished and how many it will do.

    Once the initial sync is done you shouldn’t see Sparrow be a CPU or bandwidth hog at all.

    If you don’t want this behavior initially you can also check the box “Download messages on Demand” under Advanced Preferences.

  4. The default setting for sync downloads all messages. Even I am facing similar CPU issues. I turned on download on demand from prefs and it still acts like a CPU hog.