Friday, January 30, 2009

Does your provider block torrent downloads ? Find it out with Google

If you suspect your ISP is throttling BitTorrent traffic and don't want to wait for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to prove it Google wants to help. Their new network measuerment platform, M-Lab, was launched yesterday along with three tools built on it. Glasnost, a tool for determing whether your ISP is manipulating BitTorrent traffic, is one of them.

Before you rush off to try it out you should be aware their servers are getting a lot of traffic right now and you may have to wait a long time to get through. No doubt this will change as the newness wears off and the publicity dies down somewhat.

If you just want to find out the results of other users' tests you can skp straight to the Glasnost results page which gives you a picture of results broken down by geographic area and time. It can't tell you what ISPs are found to be manipulating BitTorrent traffic though. You'll need to run the test for yourself to find out if yours does.

Obviously we know that there are several ISPs who have either been caught or admitted to interfering with various types of internet traffic. It's likely there is more going on than anyone has discovered yet.

You may have more luck running the other tests. Both are fairly dependent on using servers located as geographically close to you, so unless you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay area you'll want to use the server list to find something closer.

One is called Network Diagnostic Test (NDT), which is basically a thorough and fairly sophisticated speed test. The last test is Network Path and Application Diagnosis (NPAD). It tests for common "last mile" internet connection problems.

Last mile refers to the portion of your internet connection which leads directly to your residence. It's the portion between your provider's equipment and yours.

Although you're more likely to get these last two tests to load, you may still find there's a long wait. Fortunately both include queues so you can get "in line" for the test and simply wait until your turn comes.

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