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How can I benchmark the network transfer speed of my servers? We already have an existing file server, but it is fairly old. We recently got a donation of a (relatively) newer P4 box, and I wanted to find a way to test its network+disk I/O speeds to determine if the speed benefit is worth the work to set up a new server.

We're using Debian Lenny as our OS, and all our clients are connecting via HTTP.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you wanted to just have a look on the bandwidth actually used, give nload a shot.

I always prefer testing the daemon which is serving clients (wget/curl when testing a webserver, lftp for ftp-servers, etc). Artificial tests like iperf are better to check the general throughput of your routers, switches, NICs and IP stacks.


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iperf. Or if you want to go old-school, ttcp.

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WGET will show transfer rates. Stick a large temporary file up on the server (say, dd if=/dev/zero of=tempfile bs=1M count=200) and bring it down w/ HTTP. Watch out if you're doing any kind of compression in your HTTP server-- I believe new WGET builds can do gzip encoding.


One could argue that you should probably create a script w/ wget to poll a group of URLs that are similiar in composition as to what a "typical" visitor to the site would be accessing, as well. What I describe above is raw brute-force network / IO bandwidth testing (albeit influenced by disk caching, no doubt). Testing a potentially randomly-generated set of requests w/ wget would be another good test case, too. You could have a lot of fun with this one... >smile<

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+1, for practical and quick method. Have used this myself couple of times. But, would this be good for taking a go-no-go decision for a server? – nik Jun 27 '09 at 5:59
That depends on your "go no-go" criteria. If the criteria is only throughput then yes. If you're talking about behaviour of application software being hosted by the machine then I'd say you need a more rigorous test suite. I've done test suites for web-based applications that involve polling various URLs with wget and parsing the results to see if the application responded properly. So, certainly, wget can be used for more advanced testing, but here the poster was asking only about throughput. – Evan Anderson Jun 27 '09 at 6:30

iperf for network bandwidth testing, bonnie++ and/or iozone for disk testing. All of them can be found in the debian repositories.

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Simple and quick solution:

wget http://myserver/large.file.avi

At the end wget command will print the throughput.

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I found this paper provides very good comparison of online and standalone bandwidth test tools. It includes Abget, Pathload, Netperf and Iperf.

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I've had good luck with netperf for looking into network traffic performance issues. I found this debian link for it.

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Give Siege a go.

Siege is an http regression testing and benchmarking utility.

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