MadSci Network: Computer Science

Re: How does the amount of traffic on an Internet site effect its download time

Date: Sun Feb 4 13:18:58 2001
Posted By: Ben Saitz, VP, Ad Operations
Area of science: Computer Science
ID: 980984918.Cs

That's an interesting question, and the truth is there are many factors of 
traffic volume that affect a sites download performance.

As you probably know, a user makes a 1 to 1 connection with the web 
server, but the web server is also making hundreds or thousands of other 1 
to 1 connections simultaneously with other users from all over the world.  
So for each user to enjoy good downloading, the server and its 
infrastructure must be tuned and working properly for each download to be 

Forgetting the users download speed (dial up, DSL, cable, LAN/T1, etc), 
let's look at the string of possible events which can change download 

- Bandwidth to the server.  This is finite, a server will have allocated a 
certain amount of bandwidth, and if the number if connections made to the 
server and number of requests begins to exceed the capacity of the "pipe," 
then users can see slower downloads.
- Database and related issues.  So many sites these days are dynamic, 
driven off database content for each page and object.  If the application 
server which renders the pages or the database which houses the objects 
experience anything from a bad disk, to too little RAM, to poor internal 
networking, or a badly tuned database - this can easily cause problems for 
downloads.  As the users queue up, the server will continually be taking 
too long for each request.
- Web servers hosting images.  HTML is very lightweight compared to the 
volume images can be.  If a website is poorly created, or simply too heavy 
in terms of file sizes and badly optimized images, the server can be 
spending too much time pushing out the payload of images, thus more and 
more connections will be open at a given time.  Web servers want to 
fulfill requests, close the connection and move on.  More and more open 
connections raises the risks for download issues at the user level. This 
is where Akamai and their model have gotten good traction, they alleviate 
the heavy lifting of static images.

Good luck, let me know any follow-up questions,

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