Ever since people have been using the Internet for downloading media, there have been groups that frown on such activities. No, we don’t only mean the “copyright mafia“, but ISPs and network administrators.
The reason is simple: Transfering data costs money, lots of money, and Internet service providers are in for profit, not paying their asses off for the services they provide. After all, did you really think those “unlimited traffic” plans you saw in the ads of TV actually where an invitation to really transfer as much data as you like?!
(“It isn’t socialism, it’s your provider, stupid!” – Bill Clinton (or something like that…) )
Nope, providers love to make bold claims for publicity, but when it comes to actually delivering on their promises, many choose to go for more sleazy ways to limit their customers bandwidth usage. Then, of course, their is also universities and other, more private networks, that simply don’t want people cluttering up their connections with torrents. While this is understandable, it’s still annoying for users when they can’t use the Internet to their hearts content.
Traffic Shaping: When Torrents And Other Services Get Throttled
Increasingly often, providers use a technology called “traffic shaping” or “prioritizing”, or straight up throttling. What this means is that a special software scans your traffic, and gives some kinds of data “priority”, while others get slowed down. Straight to the point, it can mean that during peak time, HTTP (used for surfing websites or downloading files with your browser) is intentionally given priority, while your torrents are artificially slowed down.
However, it can also mean that torrents, file sharing traffic in general, Usenet and various other things simply get throttled so much people get so annoyed they just quit it… the range is endless, and even though most commercial providers don’t want to loose customers, at least some throttling can be quite common.
ShaperProbe: A Program To Detect Traffic Shaping
To detect if your provider is screwing with your connection, there are several tools that try to find out what is going on by doing a series of tests. One of these tools is ShaperProbe, a little program for Windows, Mac and Linux, which was recommended for many years.
Unfortunately, it isn’t working anymore since January 2015, because the servers went down. No indication of this can be seen on their website, but this is what happens when you try to do a test with the software:
Once A Cool Software, But Not Working Anymore
Alas, this once pretty good piece of software has gone far, far away, and is not working anymore. There are alternatives available though: Glasnost from the Max Plank Institute in Germany has a great site where you can check if torrents, Usenet, or other protocols are being throttled by your provider, and we can only sincerely recommend this service. Click here to go to the Glasnost website and run a test right now.