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Why Do Some Downloads Take Longer Than Others To Complete?

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FilesDirect is all about moving big files around the net. Our users have an easy time putting big files right into the hands of the people who need them - customers, clients, or colleagues.

But sometimes, the same file can take a different length of time for one user to download than for another. Why is that?

The reason is not everybody has the same sized connection to the internet. Some homes and offices have DSL connections or even dial-up (although this is rare these days). Other offices have cable modem connections, which are themselves of differing speeds depending on how much money the company pays for the service. Beyond cable, some offices and campuses have fiber connections to the internet, which provides the fastest of all service - and the fastest download speeds.

The geographical location matters too. Some continents, such as Africa, have few fiber connections at all, relying mainly on DSL. Other places, such as Japan, have fiber to the home roughly as common as cable to the home is in most of the US.

That's why some file downloads take longer than others - even if the files are of the same size. The pipeline between one point and another can slow things up.

Bandwidth: The Hidden Limitation

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In this era of broadband net connections to home, office and street, the web user experience is generous.  Because of this, we expect our videos to stream and our email attachments to make it through every time.  In general, whatever we want to move, no matter how large, we expect it to get from point A to point B without trouble.

Sometimes that just doesn't happen.  Why?  The answer is usually bandwidth.

Between point A and point B is a whole lot of connectivity. The connectivity is measured in bandwidth.  In the exact same way a pipe in your home is measured in diameter and length, bandwidth is measured in kilobits per second, or kbps.

Pipes that carry water have a maximum capacity and this can be anticipated and engineered for.  A 1" diameter pipe can carry less water across time than a 2" diameter pipe and so on.  The same rules apply to internet bandwidth.

Bandwidth costs money, so some servers or services have more / better bandwidth than others.  For example, FilesDirect has more than enough to make sure large file transfers happen reliably.  Each different website on the internet is a server and the speed at which you receive the content it serves to you is greatly affected by the amount of bandwidth the web server operator has bought, or "provisioned".

That's just the first pipe in the chain leading back to you, though. Between you and that server are many pipes.  Some are huge and operate at nowhere near capacity.  But some are overloaded, slowing your transfer down just like an overloaded drain pipe will work slowly.

What's more, the connectivity's total bandwidth is constantly changing, which is why a download attempt that fails one minute might succeed the next, or vice versa.

In charge of your user experience, but hidden: that's bandwidth.
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