8

I'm trying to explain this as simple but documented as possible. This is not exclusive to this server or my current ISP. I've seen the same exact issue over the years while being with different ISPs and having my servers with different providers (GoDaddy in USA, iWeb and GloboTech on Canada). The only thing it's been common is the Windows Server OS (2003 and 2008 r2). But let's look for now at my current server and my current ISP only.

The problem:

I get very slow transfer rates between my local workstation and my remote dedicated server. My server is on a 100 Mbps port and my local workstation is on a 50 Mbps symetric connection over optical fiber.

Symptoms:

Both the server and the workstation get excellent results (very close to their connection speeds) when doing tests on speedtest.net against different servers and locations over the US and Mexico. If I download big files from, let's say, Dropbox, to either my server or my workstation, I get transfer rates of 10 MBps and 5 MBps respectively on a single connection, which is correct according to each connection speed of 100 Mbps and 50 Mbps repectively.

Yet, If I transfer a file from my server (via HTTP or FTP) to my workstation, I don't get even close to the 50 Mbps speed I should get (5 MBps transfer rate) but I get instead something equivalent to 3 Mbps (300 KBps transfer rate).

I'm trying to understand why I get a transfer rate that slow. I'm not sure on how to debug it. Whenever I raise a ticket on the problem with the hosting providers, they ask me for tracert outputs and finally just blame it on some server in the middle. But that doesn't seem to be correct, if we take in consideration what I said at first: I've seen this exact speed/problem while having my servers with GoDaddy, iWeb and GloboTech, and while being myself with different ISPs on very different types of Internet service. It really looks like a fixed setting somewhere in the server area.

Tests I've done:

SPEEDTEST

These are speed tests from speedtest.net that were executed in my dedicated server against different remote servers including a server in my ISP's datacenter in Mexico City:

Canada: 94.64 Mbps for download and 94.87 for upload http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/3470801975

San Jose, CA: 93.58 Mbps for download and 95.48 Mbps for upload http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/3470805341

Mexico City (server in my own ISP's datacanter): 92.99 Mbps for download and 95.39 Mbps for upload http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/3470810269

If I run those tests against the same servers from my local workstation, I get speeds close to my 50 Mbps connection too.

TRACERT

This is a recent tracert output executed from my workstation to my dedicated server:

 1    <1 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  192.168.7.254
 2     2 ms     1 ms     1 ms  10.69.32.1
 3     *        3 ms     2 ms  10.5.50.174
 4     3 ms     2 ms     2 ms  10.5.50.173
 5     *        5 ms     3 ms  fixed-203-69-2.iusacell.net [189.203.69.2]
 6    32 ms    32 ms    32 ms  8-1-33.ear1.Dallas1.Level3.net [4.71.220.89]
 7    33 ms    33 ms    33 ms  ae-3-80.edge5.Dallas3.Level3.net [4.69.145.145]
 8    33 ms    33 ms    33 ms  ae13.dal33.ip4.tinet.net [77.67.71.221]
 9    76 ms    76 ms   157 ms  xe-1-0-0.mtl10.ip4.tinet.net [89.149.185.41]
10    72 ms    72 ms    72 ms  te2-2.cr2.mtl3.gtcomm.net [67.215.0.160]
11    72 ms    72 ms    72 ms  ae2.csr2.mtl3.gtcomm.net [67.215.0.134]
12    72 ms    72 ms    73 ms  te3-4.dist1.mtl8.gtcomm.net [67.215.0.83]
13    72 ms    72 ms    72 ms  ns1.marveldns.com [173.209.57.82]

IPERF

This is a iperf test executed using my dedicated server as server and my workstation as client:

------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to ns1.marveldns.com, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 64.0 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  3] local 192.168.7.2 port 60339 connected with 173.209.57.82 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  3]  0.0-10.3 sec  5.62 MBytes  4.59 Mbits/sec

PATHPING

This is the output of a pathping commend executed from my workstation to my dedicated server:

Tracing route to ns1.marveldns.com [173.209.57.82]
over a maximum of 30 hops:
  0  ws1 [192.168.7.2]
  1  192.168.7.254
  2  10.69.32.1
  3     *     10.5.50.174
  4  10.5.50.173
  5  fixed-203-69-2.iusacell.net [189.203.69.2]
  6  8-1-33.ear1.Dallas1.Level3.net [4.71.220.89]
  7  ae-3-80.edge5.Dallas3.Level3.net [4.69.145.145]
  8  ae13.dal33.ip4.tinet.net [77.67.71.221]
  9  xe-1-0-0.mtl10.ip4.tinet.net [89.149.185.41]
 10  te2-2.cr2.mtl3.gtcomm.net [67.215.0.160]
 11  ae2.csr2.mtl3.gtcomm.net [67.215.0.134]
 12  te3-4.dist1.mtl8.gtcomm.net [67.215.0.83]
 13  ns1.marveldns.com [173.209.57.82]

Computing statistics for 325 seconds...
            Source to Here   This Node/Link
Hop    RTT  Lost/Sent = Pct  Lost/Sent = Pct  Address
  0                                           ws1 [192.168.7.2]
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
  1    0ms     0/ 100 =  0%     0/ 100 =  0%  192.168.7.254
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
  2    1ms     0/ 100 =  0%     0/ 100 =  0%  10.69.32.1
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
  3    3ms     0/ 100 =  0%     0/ 100 =  0%  10.5.50.174
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
  4    2ms     0/ 100 =  0%     0/ 100 =  0%  10.5.50.173
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
  5    4ms    20/ 100 = 20%    20/ 100 = 20%  fixed-203-69-2.iusacell.net [189.203.69.2]
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
  6   34ms     0/ 100 =  0%     0/ 100 =  0%  8-1-33.ear1.Dallas1.Level3.net [4.71.220.89]
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
  7   34ms     0/ 100 =  0%     0/ 100 =  0%  ae-3-80.edge5.Dallas3.Level3.net [4.69.145.145]
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
  8   33ms     0/ 100 =  0%     0/ 100 =  0%  ae13.dal33.ip4.tinet.net [77.67.71.221]
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
  9   79ms     0/ 100 =  0%     0/ 100 =  0%  xe-1-0-0.mtl10.ip4.tinet.net [89.149.185.41]
                                2/ 100 =  2%   |
 10   73ms    14/ 100 = 14%    12/ 100 = 12%  te2-2.cr2.mtl3.gtcomm.net [67.215.0.160]
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
 11   72ms     2/ 100 =  2%     0/ 100 =  0%  ae2.csr2.mtl3.gtcomm.net [67.215.0.134]
                                2/ 100 =  2%   |
 12   72ms    18/ 100 = 18%    14/ 100 = 14%  te3-4.dist1.mtl8.gtcomm.net [67.215.0.83]
                                0/ 100 =  0%   |
 13   72ms     4/ 100 =  4%     0/ 100 =  0%  ns1.marveldns.com [173.209.57.82]

Trace complete.

Things you can try for yourself

If you want to give it a try, these are a few things I've setup in the server for testing purposes:

Big file on HTTP server

I've placed a 5 GB file in my server that can be downloaded via HTTP. You can find it here: http://www.marveldns.com/transfer_test/

Speedtest MINI app

I've setup a "speedtest mini" test on my server. You can visit it and see what speed it says you are getting for both download and upload within my server and yourself. You can find it here: http://www.marveldns.com/speedtest/

Finally:

As I said before, I'm trying to get help understanding the whole thing. I'm not expert on TCP/IP or top end networking. I honestly don't even have it clear how to use the results of tracert, iperf or pingpath to be able to resolve the problem, but I include them because I'm always asked for it when I talk about this issue.

If my question lacks of something to be better, please don't just downvote it and let me know what is wrong with it or what else I can add to it to get some help. Thank you.

  • just because I'm curious, what speed do you have when you wget your file on localhost on your dedicated server ? – Brice May 12 '14 at 8:30
  • Hi Brice. I get something around 50 MB/s (bytes, not bits), which is pretty much the same speed I get if I manually copy the file to the same folder in the same disk directly in Windows Explorer (so it's limited by the speed of the disk while it reads from and writes to itself). – Francisco Zarabozo May 12 '14 at 8:43
  • 1
    According to tracert, your workstation is on a rather large network. Have you tried asking to local network administrator if there was some kind of Qos that would slow down connections? – user130370 May 12 '14 at 9:02
  • If you start multiple transfers simultaneously does the combined speed add up to near the expected 50Mbit/s? ie. Is it slow over all, or slow per-connection? – Grant May 13 '14 at 21:54
  • @Grant: With multiple connections it ads up to the 50 Mbps. The limit occurs per connection. – Francisco Zarabozo May 14 '14 at 3:08
9
+25

The bottleneck I see when accessing that URL is clearly due to the window size.

When I try to download from your server I get 555KB/s. I have a roundtrip time of 108ms. Doing the math I get the following window size: 555KB/s * 108ms = 59.94KB.

As long as I do it from a host in a datacenter, I get a very consistent throughput and roundtrip. Additionally, if I start two downloads in parallel each get 555KB/s. That is exactly the symptoms you will see when the bottleneck is the window size.

Without window scaling, the window cannot be any larger than 64KB. But I do see window scaling be negotiated, so higher throughput should be possible. This leaves two hypotheses to investigate:

  • Something is mangling the window scaling option on the path from the client to the server making the server think the window is scaled by a factor of 1.
  • The server may be configured to never use more than 60KB send window on each connection.

The first is easy to verify if you can perform a packet capture on the server. Just look at the scaling option on incoming SYN packets to find out if a scaling factor higher than one is received by the server. I can recommend using Wireshark for analyzing the traffic.

Verifying the second hypothesis requires some knowledge of the operating system you are using. You happen to have chosen an operating system, which is unknown to me, so that I cannot help with. So I can only help with expertise in networking.

  • I'm not 100% sure, but isn't the window size impacted by the socket send and receive buffer size (socket options SO_RVSBUF and SO_SNDBUF)? I've seen similar incidents where the buffer was too small (eg. 1KB), and throughput was very constrained compared to 4KB or 8KB). – Cameron Kerr May 12 '14 at 11:20
  • @CameronKerr Your comment prompted me to take another look at the communication. This time I tested from my laptop (which is on WiFi and gets a lower throughput). What I observed was that I get 138KB/s with a 105ms roundtrip. That means an effective window size of 14.5KB. The receive window advertised by my laptop grew to 679<<7 (about 85KB) before throughput stabilized. That should rule out the possibility that scaling factor was simply zeroed in transit and should rule out the possibility that throughput was constrained by receive buffer on my end. – kasperd May 12 '14 at 11:54
  • A relevant article for Windows Server 2008 r2 can be found here: andydavies.me/blog/2011/11/21/… – Francisco Zarabozo Oct 31 '14 at 2:07

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