Do You Need File Transfer Acceleration?

Starting Points: » The Problem with TCP | » Do you need Acceleration? | » Other File Transfer Issues

Perhaps the more accurate way to phrase this question is, “Can file transfer acceleration help me?”. We could all use faster file transfer, but there are practical limitations to acceleration technology. For example, at low speeds (anything up to 5Mbps) and normal latency (80ms and below), FTP gives you nearly maximum speed. Here are some basic questions to ask:

  • Is my line speed close to 10Mbps or more?
  • Am I transferring to and from geographically-diverse locations?
  • Is my network fragile and prone to packet loss?
Answering “yes” to any of those questions means that acceleration is quite likely to be helpful to you. If not, you should instead consider the other file transfer problems you may wish to solve. Let's briefly address each of the points above:
  • Line Speed: TCP (ie. FTP) has built-in practical speed restrictions. If TCP is maxing out at 4Mbps, and your link is 5Mbps, you won't notice. At high speeds, though, 4Mbps is a small percentage of what's available. Ironically, the higher your base connection speed, the more you need acceleration.
  • Geographic Diversity: Distance adds latency due to satellite connections and multiple “hops”. Whereas TCP performance takes a dramatic hit with latency, FileCatalyst acceleration is immune to it.
  • Unreliable Connectivity: Connections such as satellite links are prone to packet loss. With TCP, dropped packets cause the throughput to be reduced dramatically as a response to “unreliability”. FileCatalyst acceleration brushes it off, resends the dropped packets, and continues at full speed.

Consider the following results of a 6GB media file being transferred over a T3 (45Mbps) connection:

The criteria are all met: a fast link, latency, and some packet loss. Even with a theoretical 45Mbps connection, it takes nearly two days to transfer from L.A. To Hong Kong.

...And using FileCatalyst for fast file transfer? 20 minutes.