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Can Measure Up/Download Speeds of an Online Database?

by flingwing / April 21, 2011 9:15 PM PDT

I recently signed up to use a online-based database program
for my company. The online program consists of various modules to help us manage
our company-wide safety program.


We collect and input needed data to comply with international safety
requirements and this database program stores the data on the service
provider's server. We can then see the results of our data collection depicted in various ways
including pie/bar charts and other means.


However, the speeds to access the online database pages seem too slow. When I
select and click to move between program pages and modules, it can take
anywhere from 20 seconds to often more than one minute.

I'd like to report this speed problem to the database program operator but I
would like some additional objective information other than just times required
between page changes.


Question: is there any way I measure the upload/download speeds between my
computer(s) and the database provider's server? I just used Speedlink.net to
test my desktop's speed but that's between my computer and Speedlink, I
think.


Thanks for any ideas.

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Clarification Request
Just guessing here
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / April 21, 2011 9:30 PM PDT

{I've used the Clarification Request to respond. If I had used the "Answer" option, any further replies would be severely limited, a maximum of 3 posts}

I'm just guessing here, but I suspect this is one of the drawbacks to cloud computing. The data transfer between your computer and the server, and back, should be very quick, subject to your own internet speed and broadband traffic.

But then, when the server receives your data, it might have to transfer that to some dedicated unit that holds the database application, which then has to call up your profile information, (the database you are using), input the changes, calculate the results, then send that data back to the server to be sent back to your computer. Add to that mix any sharing, (if the unit that holds the database is in constant use, you may be added to a queue), then all of these extra steps will increase the load time.

Like I say, just guessing, but you could try a test. If you signed up, (personally on a home computer perhaps), to Google Docs, created some large document, or even better a spreadsheet, and then re-accessed Google Docs to make changes. How long would the changes take to be returned to your browser?

Admittedly it is not a very scientific test, but it may give you some idea of how cloud computing works in another environment.

But let's see what others say.

Mark

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That Reply Made Things Clear
by flingwing / April 21, 2011 11:04 PM PDT
In reply to: Just guessing here

Thanks Mark. Your response with the details of how data uploads/downloads are handled made it more clear that taking as much time as this online database does shouldn't be a surprise.

I've been thinking that, if there wasn't much of a time lag in going to/from regular international web sites (e.g., Google, CNET, a banking site, etc.), the time lag shouldn't be so great with the cloud-computing database site.

However, I see now from your explanation that the handling of incoming/outgoing data from a database site is probably different and more complex. I think I may try Google Docs later to see what the difference is like.

Thanks much.

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(NT) FYI Mark: The same limits apply to clarification requests.
by John.Wilkinson / April 22, 2011 12:38 PM PDT
In reply to: Just guessing here

All Answers

Best Answer chosen by flingwing

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RE: Tried it out
by John.Wilkinson / April 23, 2011 3:05 AM PDT

Quick notes:
-> "Started" is the offset from when you clicked the
"Start" button to begin monitoring. It continues running even when
you're not doing anything.
-> "Time" is the actual time taken for that individual data request (typically a single file), measured in seconds.
-> GET and POST are just different ways of you sending data/requests to the website. Not relevant in your case.
-> I am not aware of any detailed 'getting started' guides for HttpFox - not always available for such extensions.

What you want to see are low Time values and mostly "200" and "Cache" values under Result.

If
you want something a little more intuitive, try using Google Chrome's
built-in development tools. Their network analyzer adds a graphical
aspect and also displays a summary (179 requests ? 966.81KB
transferred ? 25.86s) at the bottom, making it much more user
friendly.

Hope this helps,
John

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Answer
One thing you can do...
by John.Wilkinson / April 22, 2011 12:37 PM PDT

You can use developer tools (such as HTTPFox extension for Firefox or the built-in dev tools in Google Chrome) to monitor network connections to/from your browser. Specifically, it will let you see what data's being sent/received, how long each request takes, and which requests are redirected or failing. Now, that represents the combined limitations of both the provider's services and your own, and can fluctuate normally through the day, particularly during peak hours. However, that will give you a basis on which to quantitatively evaluate the company's service performance.

Hope this helps,
John

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Tried It Out
by flingwing / April 22, 2011 9:00 PM PDT

I downloaded HTTPFox 0.8.9 and tried it out. It looks like
it will do exactly what I need it to do. I can see it has a timer that runs
continuously, but I'm not sure I understand all the codes the program uses.



For example, it has: "started - time - sent - received" as
values and they are almost self-explanatory, but is that noting data
sent/received? If it is, the timer even runs when the program/mouse is sitting
still. So I'm not so sure how to use the information the program gives me.
Also, is the time reported in seconds or
milliseconds?



Also, across the top of the information table, the program uses
the terms "Method" with replies "Get" and "Post". Not sure about those yet,
either. I wonder if there is an online training course for this little number?
It looks to be a good one.



Thanks very much for the point in the right direction. I'll
keep working to figure out how best to use this FireFox add-on.

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