Using limited bandwidth more efficiently: Speed Download 2

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
December 9th, 2003 • 4:02 am

Having had more than my share of bandwidth-related problems over the years, since I see no improvement coming from Apple until I get access to a broadband solution, I decided that it was time to try and see if there was anything that could be done about it within existing constraints, i.e. through a third-party solution.

I remembered a reader mentioning Speed Download as a product that could help, especially by limiting the amount of bandwidth used by a specific download so that my modem connection can still be used by other processes at the same time (for checking mail, browsing the web, etc.).

Contrary to what the name seems to indicate, Speed Download is not a tool for increasing the speed of file downloads over the Internet — not in the case of a modem connection anyway. What it can do for users with a modem connection is that it can handle multiple downloads in a queue, so that you don’t have to manually work around the problem by waiting for each download to be complete before you start the next one.

And, yes, it does have a preference setting that lets you fix a maximum speed for downloads done through Speed Download. Since my connection is limited to 28 kbps, i.e. approximately 4 KB/s (maximum), I set the limit at 1 KB/s for Speed Download, so that I still have enough bandwidth for checking mail and browsing the web at the same time. And it works!

Another big advantage is that, since I share my very limited bandwidth with my wife through my AirPort Base Station, when I am downloading something large, she often cannot check her mail on her computer. Here again, Speed Download should help. Where it won’t help, unfortunately, is when my wife browses sites with lots of pictures and she gobbles up all the available bandwidth. I guess there is no way of limiting the bandwidth used by a web browser such as Explorer or Safari…

Speed Download is quite obviously a Cocoa application, and takes full advantage of UI niceties such as a customizable toolbar, Dock icon information, etc. Its interface is not as intuitive as one might like — it’s not immediately clear, for example, what you need to do to suspend a download and resume it later on — but it works well on the whole. The display of information is fully customizable, although the fact that each download is limited to a single line in the columns-based display means that, if you want to see lots of information, you need a very wide window. Maybe an appropriate improvement would be to add an option “Info” drawer that would display all the information that cannot fit in the line.

Still, for $20US, I think it’s a good investment for me, and might save me a certain amount of frustration and time. If you are in a situation similar to mine, it’s worth checking out!

Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.