Great Broadband Speed Doesn’t Always Mean Great Download Speed

I live in the country about 3 km from the nearest telephone exchange so I don’t expect great broadband speeds – the best I get is about 5 to 6Mbps during the day when the load on the network at my ISP and the local load is lower. It drops down to 1 to 2Mbps in the evening when everyone is trying to download or stream media further up the line. So I always try to do my downloading during the day when broadband speeds are better. But there’s another important factor involved in download speed and that’s the server supplying the file or files you’re downloading. I came across this problem recently when trying to download a podcast. I had to give up even though broadband speeds were fine at around 5.8Mbps at the time according to Speedtest.net:

downloadspeed3

As you can see, despite good broadband download speed, the mp3 file was downloading at crawling pace when I took the screenshot but it slowed further and eventually hung after this. I contacted the webmaster and he confirmed intermittent server side problems. If files are hosted on a busy server, this may slow down access speed. He arranged an alternative mirror location for the file on a different server and that solved the problem.

Server location can also be a factor in download speed. Generally, servers closer to you will give faster download speeds. The Ubuntu Software Center is a good example of how downloading should be arranged, allowing you to pick servers close to you. After that it runs a series of ping tests to find the best mirror for your location so you download from the fastest server.

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