Cool Tools 26: SpeedTest.net

This is more of a consumer-grade type of site that I’d recommend to everyone – including my parents when they complain about the “Interwebs being slow”. But, if your IT shop is promising specific Internet bandwidth for your portal servers, there’s nothing to stop you from RDP’ing into your server and navigating to speedtest.net to get a “second opinion”.

It is pretty laden with ads, but they aren’t too distracting. And it does require that virus called Adobe Flash, which isn’t always (and shouldn’t be!) installed on servers. But, if you’re dealing with performance issues that feel like they’re related to the network, and you’ve tested internal network connections, it can be worth temporarily installing Flash.

For example, I’m pretty sure our cloud hosting provider guarantees 10MBps both ways… so I should get on them with these results!
speedtest

It is worth pointing out that despite the joke about getting on our cloud provider, SpeedTest.net shares your Internet connection with every other connection at any given point in time. So just because the above screen shot shows that this machine is only downloading @ 6.31Mbps, that doesn’t mean that the pipe to the Internet offered by our hosting provider isn’t providing 10Mbps. It’s possible that other machines in our infrastructure are burning bandwidth too. And, since this is a production environment, I would HOPE at any given point in time there is activity on our network as pages are served from the portal.

Give it a shot – even if you’re sitting in front of your work computer at this very moment. You may be surprised about the relative speed differences between your home and office.

One surprising little fact is that I pay about $100/month for about 100MB/s from Comcast. But most commercial hosting providers charge up to 10x the cost for 1/10th the speed. Really – that’s a 1000x markup! The difference, of course, is that Comcast doesn’t GUARANTEE these speeds – or even availability. So you couldn’t run a real production web site off Comcast, since it is occasionally down or under-performing. Still, it’s food for thought: at the very highest service levels, costs increase exponentially. Same thing with the “Five 9’s” mandate – but that’s a blog post for another day…

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