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Checking broadband throughput

By gbhall
Feb 22, 2008
  1. One of the bugbears of running broadband communications to the internet is that when things unaccountably slow down, how can you gain a reasonable idea of what is causing the problems?

    You get the drift - is it Hardware, Drivers, Broadband connection, ISP or Windows software ??

    For example, some setting in connections might have changed, accidently or by malicious software.

    A MS patch-tuesday update may have adversely affecting IP handling (I reckon Feb2008 did this for certain Dells, certainly things were awful afterwards, I rolled back to prior to patch Tuesday and things seem ok again).

    Automatic updates might change your network driver, or you might do it yourself, only to find it is worse than the original.

    Your ISP might have throttled back because of high demand.

    Has anyone heard of a downloadable package that can measure ANY of these factors, or at least give some idea whether things really are as bad as they seem by offering a sort of test download site, where you can get an objective measure of bps ?
     
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

  3. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    if you want to test your current speed you can use various sites like speedtest.net among others.. some will even keep a log of your attempts..

    you are right, various factors come into play that determine how "fast" your connection may be at any point in time.. and even more scenarios where the outcome/solution may be totally different to another.

    To add some more general ones:
    - shared internet connection
    - exceeding the data limit for your month, which results in speed throttling for some ISPs
    - programs downloading silently in the background, whether bittorent, normal downloads or malware
    - how far your house is to the exchange...

    tip you can try is to use one of those really short telephone cables (eg 300mm ones) from your modem to your telephone plug instead of those 3m ones included. That seemed to drasticaly stabilised my connection to my isp (which i have a feeling that my house is right on the edge of their zone or something..)
     
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,322   +622

    some basic of networking;

    you have control of your system and everything up to but NOT including the ISP gateway.
    once your data flows beyond that gateway it's amorphous bits on the wire.

    you can see your system performance by finding the ISP gateway address and using
    ping -t $gateway-address
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=14ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=14ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=9ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=12ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=11ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=7ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=10ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=9ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=10ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=9ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=9ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=11ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=9ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=9ms TTL=254
    Reply from 123.233.111.1: bytes=32 time=12ms TTL=254​
    notice the low 7ms vs 14ms -- 100% increase in response time :(
    normally a good connection varies by 1-2ms. as my system is idling at 6% cpu and
    no other tcp connections, the explanation is the gateway is busy with MANY
    other cable user's connection, not just mine.

    pinging techspot.com I get great, consistent reply times
    Reply from 70.85.4.244: bytes=32 time=59ms TTL=47
    Reply from 70.85.4.244: bytes=32 time=55ms TTL=47
    Reply from 70.85.4.244: bytes=32 time=54ms TTL=47
    Reply from 70.85.4.244: bytes=32 time=56ms TTL=47
    Reply from 70.85.4.244: bytes=32 time=53ms TTL=47
    Reply from 70.85.4.244: bytes=32 time=56ms TTL=47
    Reply from 70.85.4.244: bytes=32 time=53ms TTL=47
    Reply from 70.85.4.244: bytes=32 time=53ms TTL=47
    Reply from 70.85.4.244: bytes=32 time=53ms TTL=47​

    there are some specific settings that will help, but when you get variable performance,
    it's not a settings issue -- it's the tcp traffic between you and the system you've connected to.

    some things to look for;
    1. set do not fragment
    2. have router discard fragmented packets
    3. set 100mb full duplex
    4. google for setting SACKOPTS
     
  5. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,425   +77

    many thanks to responders - very useful. I was lucky to get a very important picture from the speedtest.net site which indicates clearly that at the time tested, at least, I was getting within a very few percent of the specified bit rates for my connection. At a stroke, that elimated 80% of the possible problems, and leaves me just growling about the response times of the actual servers I need to use.

    Whenever I run into slow-downs, I now have several ways of attacking the problem - thanks to you guys again. BTW sometimes I wish sites would indicate in some way that 'you need to allow activex to operate in your browser' !! Took me five minutes to work out what were those 'pyramids' Kimsland was talking about !!
     
  6. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Active X is default, you're just too secure!
     
  7. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,425   +77

    Ho, ho, too secure....that's not possible is it? You know that as well as I do. I run my browser with everything except pictures and scripts turned off, it's just sometimes when I come across a baulky website I have never been to before, I forget....it's my age you know, I'm supposed to retire this year, but may just adjust my times to avoid the rush-hour.
     
  8. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    I agree if your computer is turned on, you're not secure any longer.
    But, here's the attitude when you get older ! (like you) Turn everything on and don't worry anymore, then re-install every 6 months or so (actually imaging is easier) Your computer flys (flies?) along faster than everyone's :)
     
  9. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,425   +77

    That's an idea, but really it's not in my nature.....at work, I am responsible for about 50 computers, procurement, installation, debugging, repair. 7 are continually connected to the internet via a router, not to mention I do ALL of the software development in Visual Foxpro with the exception of the financials, plus the website with ASP.

    The frustration I feel and the resentment I feel for the infringement on my scare time when someone does something silly makes me lock everything down like fort knox....where I can.
     
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