ITGS Syllabus

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Topic 137

The limiting effect of bandwidth by Tommy

Although internet connections are able to pass a lot of information back and forth, they are not all powerful. Every internet connection is restricted by its bandwidth limit. Bandwidth is the transmission capacity of a communications device, or the amount of data that can be passed along a communications channel in a given period of time.

The main issue associated with this subject is how limiting it is. Applications that communicate a lot with several different computers at once can put a great strain on the computer that they are running on. For example, torrent programs set up connections and download files from many other computers. Quite often, this uses up a lot of bandwidth on the host computer and the person using the torrent program will experience a significant drop in connection speed when using other applications, such as internet explorer.

Extremely popular websites or files that receive a large number of “hits” per day from users around the world may cause server crashes or certain images not to be displayed. People surfing a website that is being browed by many other people may experience slow loading times or sometimes no response at all. Images hosted on image hosts such as Photobucket may not display if too many people view them. Instead, a message saying “Image not displayed due to exceeded bandwidth” is posted.

The ethical issues here are people who deliberately upload large amounts of data in a very short period of time to certain websites. This causes those websites to exceed their bandwidth and become inaccessible to other people. This is especially the case for websites that do not host themselves. Instead, they rely on other hosts such as Geocities or Bravenet. These hosts often put a limit on the amount of bandwidth that sites are able to use. When a site exceeds its allowed bandwidth, it is taken down temporarily.

The problem of programs hogging bandwidth on internet connections can be solved by setting limits to how much bandwidth certain programs are allowed to use, or by simply running those programs at times when nobody else is using them. The problem with setting a limit on bandwidth is that torrent programs may experience slower download rates.

For popular sites that experience server crashes due to too many people trying to access them at once, multiple servers can be set up to help ease the load on individual servers. The file sizes on these sites can also be reduced so that not as much bandwidth will be used when people load a page.

People who deliberately upload large amounts of data for the purpose of crashing a site can be stopped or at least hindered by placing a limit on the amount that can be uploaded at once. Also, the security for many web hosts or servers could be increased so that hackers would have a harder time breaking in and uploading things to exceed the bandwidth. The problem with this is that it would stop people who upload large files for legitimate purposes.

Because resources are limited, the problem of limited bandwidth will always exist. It cannot be extinguished even if connections are upgraded to be able to transfer more data faster, because the data size will also increase to keep up with the faster transfer rates.


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