Mac OS X: Transmit on a modem connection

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 18th, 2003 • 10:42 pm

In the past few days, I’ve been using Panic Software’s Transmit quite a bit for downloading a number of MP3 files off a private server (nothing illegal, don’t worry). Given that I am still on a dial-up connection peaking at 28.8 kbps, I am unfortunately used to very long download times and lousy Internet performance during the downloading process.

More specifically, I am more than familiar with Mail’s constant error messages alleging that my “mail server cannot be found” when the reality is that Mac OS X in general and Mail in particular are not particularly skillful at handling my limited bandwidth gracefully. I get these messages whenever I am downloading a big file in Safari, for example, which is a clear indication that the fact that both Mail and Safari are Apple products is no guarantee that they are able to share connection time in an efficient fashion.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that I was still able to CHECK for new messages in Mail — albeit quite slowly — while Transmit was busy downloading files in the background and seemingly gobbling up all my available bandwidth!

Based on the traffic indicators provided by MenuMeters, the amount of traffic generated by Transmit was not significantly different (i.e. not significantly lower) than the amount typically generated by a Safari download. Things were typically in the 2-3 KB/s range all the time. Yet I got no complaints from Mail — no error messages saying that my mail servers could not be found or did not respond or whatever.

How can this be? Do the folks at Panic know something about my specific situation that Apple does not? It wouldn’t be all that surprising… Apple has been particularly disrespectful of its modem-using customers in recent years. Third-party developers, especially small independent ones such as Panic Software, are more likely to be more in tune with the demands and problems of ordinary users in the real world.

It’s a sad situation nonetheless. But at least it will encourage me to use Panic more often for file downloading purposes instead of Safari. It might take a few additional mouse clicks, but the absence of any disruption in Mail is well worth the effort!

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