Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

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Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:45 pm

For months now, I've been dealing with too-consistent slowdowns in accessing and streaming/downloading files from some key top Internet-based services, among them YouTube and the Apple app store. Things are generally peachy and relatively quick during the day, but I get serious slowdowns and even some failures during "prime time" in the evenings--roughly 7PM to midnight, Central time.

Often, YouTube videos won't stream at all, and if I pause one to let it buffer up, the video will take several times longer to buffer fully than it does to play. That's pretty pathetic--and this isn't all 720p or even 480p videos. Even the 360p ones can have problems. This is a problem on both my wireless laptops and my fast, wired GigE desktop.

Similarly, the Apple app store will often be sluggish to move from screen to screen, slow to load screenshots (they sometimes just fail to load), and painfully sluggish when downloading even simple, smallish iPhone apps. I'm using an iPhone4 on Wi-Fi with a solid signal, but I still run into problems.

I've pretty much assumed the problem was related to servers at those services for a while now, but it seems to me like, if the basic infrastructure for those popular Internet services were nearly failing constantly, folks would be talking about it. So far, I haven't noticed much on Google beyond the occasional basic support thread. Recently, I've finally gotten fed up enough to do something I've not found necessary for a while: bust out some basic network analysis tools and see if I can pinpoint the problem.

For what it's worth, I have Time Warner/Road Runner for my ISP, with the 15Mbps "Turbo" option, and I can get 15 Mbps downloads and 1 Mbps uploads to a local server via SpeedTest.net. Ping times are ~55 ms to that server, although local ping times to my ISP are in the 20s. If I hit a server on the west coast, I generally get 8-10 Mbps downloads, with ping times in the 70-80ms range. (I'm in KC, MO.)

I'm just starting work on it, and at this very moment, there's no problem to observe. I'll have to check later tonight. In the interim, though, I'm wondering whether any of you are running into similar issues with YouTube, the app store, or other streaming video services like Bing's. Is everything peachy in the evenings or are any of you seeing similar probems?

If you are seeing problems, tell me: What sort of 'net connectivity do you have? Do a lot of people share it? Do you suspect your ISP or do you suspect it's a larger problem? Why?

I wonder if, with CDNs and the like in wide use, if there isn't some kind of regional issue at play here. Hmm.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:57 pm

I suspect it's more likely that you're just losing bandwidth from Time Warner at these times. I haven't had issues with it in a while, but last fall when I was watching a lot more Netflix Instant Watch than I am right now I would often lose picture quality and discover that my 10Mb service had dropped down to 1 Mb. I think it was every two weeks or so, but of course it mostly just depended on how many people in my apartment complex were using bandwidth at the same time.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:34 pm

Time warner is at the bottom of the list in isp's from everything i've read. They do the most throttling, overselling and offer the poorest service of all. They were the second ones to implement bandwidth caps as well, and had the tightest restrictions. I'm gonna have to agree with SNM and say your problem isn't related to the sites at all. On top of that, just for reference, i don't experience any of the slowdowns you are talking about, and have never had to buffer a youtube video even on the highest definition.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:19 pm

Yup, I suspect it is Time Warner. It could be either the local connections (over subscribed cable node) or their links off to other ISPs. Running ping tests whilst hitting slow downs to both your first ISP hop and the first non Time Warner hop (identified through a traceroute) should tell you where the problem is. If it is just local links then maybe complaining to them will get them to take a closer look at your node and redistribute the load on it. If it's the peering links that are over subscribed then switch ISPs immediately.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:58 pm

notfred, yeah, thanks, but I was a network admin for Road Runner back when they first rolled out DOCSIS cable modems here in the area. I know how to test. ;)

Just really surprised at the issues cropping up now, because their network has been exceptionally well managed and built out ahead of demand, at least in my area, for many years.

I'm doing some pinging around this evening, and it looks like there are issues in their metro area network, potentially even beyond my local node. The local node is pretty full, though, with ping times to a near IP ranging from 9-34 ms right now, so it's going to be hard for me to know for sure about networks beyond it from where I sit. My Speedtest.net results have dropped from 15 Mbps this afternoon to 4.5Mbps at present.

I see in their help system they're doing a cable replacement in a spot situated between my house and the local distribution hub tomorrow night. Curious to see if that helps in any way.

What a shame if they've let things deteriorate. They were quite good for a long time, contra Heiwashin, at least around here.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:11 pm

Last couple of test are peaking at 2.1 Mbps. Doh!

Interestingly enough, my upstream bandwidth remains steady at 1 Mbps, as ever. Used to be the upstream was what really got you, but my upstream/node looks to be fine. The larger combined area, not so fine.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:14 pm

Perhaps you need to switch over to fiber...it's quite a bit quicker... 8)
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:17 pm

Very helpful. Thanks. :x
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:19 am

Well to be fair my knowledge of time warner extends only over the last few years. Before about 3 years ago i had never heard of them, but in that time you're the only customer i've seen a compliment towards them from.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:52 am

I'm fairly sure that Youtube and Apple are both on large CDNs. It could be the CDN node is the other side of the congestion you are seeing or something could be horrifically misconfigured and your area could be pointing at the wrong CDN node. Try checking where the packets are coming from with Youtube or an Apple download by checking firewall logs or running Ethereal or similar then look at where that is and what your connectivity is to that area.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:21 am

Fighterpilot wrote:Perhaps you need to switch over to fiber...it's quite a bit quicker... 8)
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Oh **** that's fast... I'm also fiber but my ISP (Bell) limits the bandwidth to 25 mbps (although it normally peaks around 35)
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:34 pm

Download you would get those speeds on Docsis 3 too, I max my routers 100Mbps interfaces on it, plugged into a gig port i got 130Mbps down, only 10Mpbs upwards...

As for Damages OP, I've noticed similar prime time slowdowns here or even nightly slowdowns(which would coincide with your primetime) on especially youtube. For some reason, sometimes it goes way faster to switch to 720p, so I think it may serve the different versions from different servers, probably through a way closer node in the CDN or something. Although I havent checked the FW-logs or wireshark to confirm that.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:42 pm

Aphasia wrote:Download you would get those speeds on Docsis 3 too, I max my routers 100Mbps interfaces on it, plugged into a gig port i got 130Mbps down, only 10Mpbs upwards...

As for Damages OP, I've noticed similar prime time slowdowns here or even nightly slowdowns(which would coincide with your primetime) on especially youtube. For some reason, sometimes it goes way faster to switch to 720p, so I think it may serve the different versions from different servers, probably through a way closer node in the CDN or something. Although I havent checked the FW-logs or wireshark to confirm that.


That's not a bad theory. I stated that i don't have the problem with high def, but i only watch high def vids for the most part.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:54 am

Aphasia,
I wonder if being in Sweden you are running in to trans-Atlantic bandwidth issues? With lots of people just watching the default version I should imagine things could get cache evicted from the standard-def CDN node quite quickly so you end up having to wait on the big undersea pipe. If they run a different CDN node for hi-def then it might not get churned as much and so stream locally.
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:46 am

You think you've got it bad?

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(my fault for living too far from the CO)
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:00 am

Heh... when I first moved to my current house, the only "broadband" available was IDSL -- symmetrical 144 kbit up/down, and cost more than the 3 mbit DSL I'm on now. About the only good thing I can say about IDSL is that it was rock-solid reliable (since it was technically considered to be a "business class" service).
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Re: Prime time slowdowns in YouTube, Apple app store, others?

Postposted on Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:53 am

notfred - thats quite probable, but other things dont seem to slowdown as much, so it could also be a CDN/server issue where i get pushed to servers that are more heavily loaded or something. Although the effect is the same.

just brew it! - Yeah, I had ISDN just as DSL was starting to show up in test-cases. I got offered DSL in a consumer test, some 2/0.512 or something, but the weird thing with that was that it actually hade a price/MB clause which would have made it incredibly expensive. Something akin to the dataplans you can see on 3G and mobile usage. That said, my dual channel ISDN which was mostly free had alot of GB's on it when it retired. And rock solid and good ping compared to most other things out there.
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