Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Whenever I try to download games from steam or other large file downloads my internet connection will peak between 1.2MB/s and 1.8MB/s then drop to 700 kb/s. I have a 4.5MB/s down connection from time warner and speed test rates it near the peak speed I'm seeing. I'm on gigabit lan.

What can I do to keep my DL speed closer to my peak speed?

share|improve this question
possible repost of… – Fergus Mar 1 '11 at 2:45
This doesn't have anything to do with protocols or over-utilization, its about understanding the difference between bits and bytes. – MaQleod Mar 1 '11 at 2:47
latest speedtest 14.35Mb down – Buzkie Mar 1 '11 at 3:54
up vote 1 down vote accepted

dont confuse units, connection bandwidth is in bits, download speeds are in bytes. 1.2 MBps is actually very fast, so is 700 KBps (this is 5.4 mbps), so you are getting full speeds.

1 Mbps = 128 KBps

4.5 Mbps = 576 KBps

share|improve this answer
To add to this so it's clear, connection speeds are expressed in bits per second bps (note the lowercase 'b'). Actual up/download speeds reported by most programs are expressed in bytes per second Bps (note the capital 'B'). In this case, the downstream connection speed is 4.5 Mbps (Mega- bits per second) and the download rate was about 700 KBps (Kilo- bytes per second). – Jeff Mercado Mar 1 '11 at 3:17
MaQleod, looks like you got them confused yourself, that should be 5.4Mb/s, not mb/s. :) – Hydaral Mar 1 '11 at 3:19
the case of the prefix isn't that important and has no bearing on the meaning.... – MaQleod Mar 1 '11 at 3:20
just did a speed test 14.35Mb down. – Buzkie Mar 1 '11 at 3:56
In that case, look to nnewton's answer as to why you aren't getting full speeds from Steam or other sites. The real test is to download form a number of these sites at once and see if all remain consistent. You should be able to handle multiple server connections at once, all getting decent speeds. – MaQleod Mar 1 '11 at 4:02

The high initial speed is usually due to the caching of the file when the download is started, it probably wasn't actually downloading that fast. Keep in mind that you can only download as fast as the sending server can upload, maybe the sending server is limiting connection speeds, or is just very busy.

Try downloading something that should be very fast, maybe an Ubuntu or torrent.

share|improve this answer
The initial speed isn't really what is in question here, but it is a valid and important point regarding that a connection to a server is limited by the lowest connection speed of either the server or the client. – MaQleod Mar 1 '11 at 3:19
just tried off Ubuntu server only got 500kB/s – Buzkie Mar 1 '11 at 3:52
what happens when you download ubuntu, mandriva, open office, suse and so on all at once? each server probably has a connection speed limit so that all who connect can at least have some bandwidth. Try making a multitude of connections to see if you can achieve full speeds. Given that the speed test reached 14.5mbps, you should have no problem. – MaQleod Mar 1 '11 at 4:06

At this point I believe it is the write speed on my drive. I got a 3200 rpm on sale when building the box, and no matter what I'm downloading from the combined max is 1.4mbps.

I believe nnewton was correct about the spike at the beginning due to caching. I'm going to buy a 7200 and clone my image over to it.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .