By Kyle Peveto, Staff Writer
Recent bandwidth “shaping” by computer network administrators is having adverse effects on file sharing programs and some instant messenger services.
The administrators have had to shape Internet bandwidth because of excessive use of music and video file sharing programs and games, they said.
Shaping the bandwidth in such ways prioritizes access to primary services, such as Web sites, while lowering priority access for peer-to-peer file transfer programs like Morpheus and KAZAA.
Between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays, peer-to-peer file sharer programs from computers in residence halls will receive less Internet bandwidth. Shaping is turned off after 6 p.m.
AOL Instant Messenger, a popular program on campus that allows users to type messages in real time, has been affected by the bandwidth shaping because it shares data paths common to the music/video applications. Other instant messenger programs from Microsoft Network and Yahoo have not been affected.
“It’s frustrating when I couldn’t use it,” said Meriden Layfield, freshman speech pathology major from Ft. Worth.
“The core problem is music and video downloads and games,” said Fred Mowchan, network administrator. “These servers grab the bandwidth and won’t let it go.”
Bandwidth is best described as “the size of the pipe” that connects to the Web, Mowchan said. Music and video file sharing programs take up all the bandwidth available in that pipe.
These servers will take over ports that should be used by Web pages, secure data transfer sites and others.
Servers used for file sharing will latch onto as many ports as possible and take up bandwidth that should be used in classes and university management during the day.
ACU’s network runs at 100 percent capacity constantly, even after upgrading from six MHz to 10 MHz this summer.
Internet traffic is a result of network users leaving file sharing programs on continuously. Many students leave their music sharing programs on all day, which allows users from computers throughout the world to download music and videos from ACU’s network 24 hours a day.
One student in a residence hall this semester took up 19 percent of the available bandwidth, Mowchan said.
Shaping the network has allowed those who need access to the network during the day to have a reasonable chance of completing their assignments.
“These problems are not unique to ACU, but are plaguing campuses around the nation,” Mowchan said. “I fully expect additional activity to fine tune what’s already in place. But the best solution to the problem is for students to realize free music and videos come with a price that we’re all paying now.”