Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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

Is it possible to determine a bandwidth estimation of a remote host on the internet.

I wish to do a random scan on the internet and determine the more or less the distrbution of network speeds.

Thus, in short, if I have say, is there a way to estimate the upper bandwith that the host can handle, say 100mb/s?

share|improve this question

I don't think you can achieve what you want by measuring remotely.

Any measurement that you take will be constrained by:

  1. Your own internet connection speed
  2. You will be contending for bandwidth at the remote end with 1000's of other users
  3. Many companies do not have one Internet connection, but hundreds around the world, by using Content Delivery Network techniques.
  4. Many websites will rateshape your connection to ensure that you don't hog all the bandwidth.
  5. Many websites have shared hosting, so 10 companies could be sharing a single 1Gbps link to the data centre - would you consider that 100Mbps (1Gbps / 10 sites) each, or would you consider that at 10Gbps (1Gbps x 10 sites)?
  6. Most companies have redundant internet links to different ISPs. Would you want to measure each of these links individually and add them up?

Let's approach the problem from a different angle - why do you want to determine the distribution of network speeds? Are you trying to guesstimate how much bandwidth your own site needs or is it for something else?

share|improve this answer
I'm trying to generate the distribution for a research project. I'm not as focused on websites than I am simply trying to estimate the host bandwidth distribution for servers on the internet. – LopLop Sep 5 '10 at 22:17
@LopLop - simply put, that is not possible. – Izzy Sep 6 '10 at 2:03
When you say host bandwidth, do you mean per-server? Most servers are connected at 100Mbps/1Gbps nowadays; but then end up contending for bandwidth somewhere along the line. I'm still not sure I understand what you are researching. – Mitch Miller Sep 7 '10 at 2:33

Take a look at pathchar if you want a tool to estimate the characteristics of different network links between two sites. Having said that, I believe that "random" sites you might select to probe may view your attempts as hostile and respond with complaints to your upstream provider(s), counterattacks, modify the results that you get, and otherwise interfere with your project.

Also, you've got no good way to know (without asking) if the host/network in question is going to be injured or inconvenienced by your efforts - either because they don't have a flat-rate connection, and/or because they actually need the bandwidth they pay for, and subsidizing your "research" isn't something they've agreed to do.

In sum, I don't think your idea is a good one, and I don't think you'll learn very much from the effort, other than that other people don't like it when you screw around with their networks for no good reason. If you really want to know about the characteristics of network connections, you can probably find this in discussions occuring at a business/budgetary level for providers or consumers. If you really want to play around with measuring network characteristics, that's cool, but get permission first or do it on hardware that you legitimately control. Don't just arbitrarily bother other people on the Internet.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.