It is clear to any students or faculty who use the ACU network that we have a severe problem with its performance. Although this summer ACU increased capacity by over 60 percent, the usability is worse than ever. While many factors contribute to this problem, there is one that stands out far beyond them all: file sharing.
Ignoring any legal or ethical issues surrounding file sharing, the simple fact stands that the express purpose of programs such as KaZaA, Morpheus and iMesh is to allow users to transfer large files among themselves.
Because the ACU network can only transmit data so fast, unlimited file sharing crowds out all the other data trying to get through. The situation is exactly like rush hour in large cities-since roads have a limited size, trying to put too many cars on them at once causes the whole traffic system to grind to a halt.
Unfortunately, the sharing of music and movies is taking up so much of ACU’s bandwidth that traffic such as instant messaging, e-mail and Web pages are unable to get through. At no time have the network administrators ever specifically shut off access to instant messaging, e-mail or any other communication service; in fact, they are continually taking steps to insure that instant messaging traffic receives very high priority. At times of peak usage, instant messaging traffic is only about 150 kilobytes per second-1.5 percent of the total capacity. But students’ own file-sharing programs are now using the same “ports” as AOL Instant Messenger and other services-precisely because the authors of the programs knew these ports would not be blocked-and are crowding them out.
The administrators, along with several students working with them to help them understand our needs and perspectives, are constantly trying to manage the explosion of traffic that file sharing has caused. But they cannot do it alone. The student body needs to do its part in keeping the network load reasonable. The only solution is a real effort to use Internet resources responsibly, such as turning off the ability for others to download files from our own computers.
Any students who have questions, concerns or ideas are welcome to attend the every-other-Thursday meetings of the Association for Computing Machinery immediately after Chapel in the Foster Science Building and join us in finding a solution that will benefit everyone at ACU.
Association for Computing Machinery, ACU Chapter