Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

ResTech solves network issues

Residential Technology Services resolved the network connectivity issues of the past three weeks early yesterday, according to Matt Arthur, director of network systems & operations.

The problems plaguing the network were linked to several individuals who were using a variation of BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file distribution protocol, to encrypt peer-to-peer traffic as Web traffic. Since ResTech prioritizes Web traffic over peer-to-peer traffic, little bandwidth was available for students to launch services such as Instant Messenger.

Using new technology capable of identifying and managing the nefarious BitTorrent software, Arthur reported a 25 to 50 percent reduction in yesterday’s total traffic. Cautious of the resolution, Arthur said that the true test of the network will be over the weekend.

“Technology always runs behind by a little. This time, it took two weeks longer than normal to come up with a solution.”

Washington University’s peer institutions report similar connectivity issues.

Carnegie Mellon’s network serves about 4,000 users, comparable to the number serviced by Washington University’s ResTech. To avoid some of the problems the Washington University recently faced, Carnegie Mellon has restricted its students to 10 gigabytes over a five-day interval. Residents who use more than their allotted bandwidth receive a series of warnings. If bandwidth abuse persists, Internet privileges are revoked for a 45-day period.

“Bandwidth is a shared resource. If there are a few users trying to download lots of files, our system will prevent them from ruining the commodity for everyone,” said Dan Cuella, a student consultant at Carnegie Mellon’s Residential Computing Services. “We give people limits and they respect that.”

Arthur said that Washington University considered moving to a similar system, but rejected the idea after receiving negative feedback from surveyed students.

Alan Rueter, director of computing technology services, suggested two alternative solutions if the problem persists.

“One thing is to charge students extra if they need extra bandwidth,” he said.

The ResTech network currently uses half the University’s total bandwidth capacity. While Rueter explained that the University could also remove the limit on ResLife, such a decision could cost the rest of campus.

“The problem that came up a couple of years ago was that the dorms used up all the University’s bandwidth, so people couldn’t get their work done. [The limit] lets the rest of the University and the medical center have bandwidth.”

Provided that University community members use appropriate bandwidth, programs such as Instant Messenger should be able to function without impediment.

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