Slow system plagues students

by Sharon Albright

Information Services connect last month’s temporarily slow server to the need for additional software to handle file sharing, according to the department director.

For the last year and a half, Information Services has relied on a packet shaper device to ensure that file sharing does not take up more than a specified amount of the server’s bandwidth at any given time. But, occasionally, this device needs to be brought up to speed to take into account new downloading options.

“The server was running slower because KaZaa had come up with a different way of getting around the limitations that we had in place,” said Paul Crittenden, computer system administrator for Information Services.

“In order to get the speed under control, I had to update our software with these modifications.”

Crittenden says that the limitations on file sharing should not cause concern among students, since its ultimate purpose rests in preserving everyone’s right to use the Internet for their own purposes.

“We are shaping our bandwidth in a way that everything still gets through,” Crittenden said. “But, we recognize that recreational sites should not take up all of the server space, which is why we allow only a certain amount of bandwidth to be used for that purpose at any time.”

Crittenden said that new capabilities of sites such as KaZaa make the packet shaper system essential.

“Some of these sites allow for people to download three-hour long movies, which ties up a lot more space than a two-minute song,” Crittenden said. “Considering this, if we were to allow KaZaa unlimited bandwidth, it would easily take up all the space.”

Information Services reports very few periods of server slowness since the packet shaper device was installed at the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year.

“Generally, it is a little worse at the beginning of semesters when students don’t have as much homework and are browsing more during their off-time. Or, the server can get just as tied up during finals time, when students are rushing to finish last-minute projects,” Crittenden said.

Crittenden reminds students and faculty that the server is a shared resource, and he recommends that everyone does their part to keep it running efficiently.

“Just use courtesy and consider using off-times to download large files. If a file is going to tie up the bandwidth for an awful long time, the best time to start it is between midnight and 6 a.m.,” Crittenden said.