Will Streaming Music Ruin My Neighbor's Life?
September 23, 2008 8:36 AM   Subscribe

My neighbor kindly gave me the key to her (Airport) wireless network Pt 2 (Pt 1 here). OK - so I'm on, in Ubuntu, and I've been streaming lastfm for the past few days. And then just now I thought, "am I slowing down her network access by streaming music whilst she's online?" Or is the difference negligable? My prime concern here is that I don't want to repay her kindness by ruining her life.
posted by forallmankind to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Streaming music shouldn't put a dent in her speeds at all. Typical internet radio uses around 96-128 kilobits per second down. Let's say a typical DSL download rate is 1000 kilobit/sec, this is around 1/10 of the capacity. A typical cable modem download rate might be more, say 3000 or 6000 kilobit/sec, so we're talking even less, 1/25th or 1/50th of the total download capacity.

If you're streaming 24/7 and she's on a metered plan, it might make an impact, other than that I really wouldn't worry about it.
posted by reptile at 8:43 AM on September 23, 2008

DSL and Cable are measured in multiple megabits. Music is typically 64-128 kilobits. I wouldnt worry about it. Its torrents and big downloads that really slow things down.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:51 AM on September 23, 2008

Yeah, it certainly depends on her connection speed, but streaming music is relatively lightweight. (Even streaming video isn't too bad.)

If you start torrenting, you need to make sure that you cap your upstream at, say, 20KB. Reason being, if a connection only offers 50KB of upload speed, the torrent will use every last drop of that. When that happens, even simple requests to load web pages (which need to go out and talk to the server, briefly) need to get in line behind the saturated serving of a torrent.

It's really the upload you have to worry about, since that can drive down the quality of someone's internet experience dramatically, and since the upload is usually asynchronous (read: slower) than their download speed.

Short story: Don't run torrents, but even "big downloads" shouldn't be a huge problem. Just don't push anything big "up".
posted by disillusioned at 9:32 AM on September 23, 2008

Difference is mostly negligible except what people said above. Your best bet to make sure this remains a totally agreeable solution is to sort of check in maybe once "hey if you notice anything, please let me know..." This might open you up to random tech support queries, but it's probably better to be very open about this than to have herpossibly resentful if her connection is slow [even if you have nothing at all to do with it]. Also if you can ballpark what sort of connection she has you can determine what is and is not appropriate. When I had slow DSL, the upload speeds were really slow meaning that putting ten photos on Flickr would basically halt the whole network. With my new faster DSL this is not an issue at all, nor has it been at my friends' place who have cable. If she's got FIOS tyou probably don't even have to worry about torrents, though you may want to think on that a little just in case you're someplace where there could be potential legal trouble, blah blah.
posted by jessamyn at 9:38 AM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Am I the only one that thinks this sounds like the plot to "You've Got Mail II" ?

There is a discussion of scrobbling b/width usage here that might prove helpful.
posted by mecran01 at 10:00 AM on September 23, 2008

For comparison: I used to stream an internet radio station at 56kbps over DSL (128 bit AAC seems to be the standard), which was about half of the upstream bandwidth. Downstream bandwidth for my DSL was like 5-6 times as much as upstream. So even on the lowest tier of broadband you're probably only using 1/10th of the available bandwidth.
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:26 AM on September 23, 2008

on review: (What reptile said, basically)
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:30 AM on September 23, 2008

offer to mow her lawn or pick up mail/water plants or check in on her house if she needs to go out of town. Even if it she doesn't take you up on your offer, she will probably appreciate knowing that if there is an emergency she can ask you for a quick favor. At the end of your offer tag on "oh, and if you notice any issues with the connection let me know and I can help work out the bugs" Streaming music shouldn't be a problem but in case it is, she will feel more comfortable telling you there is a problem.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 1:57 PM on September 23, 2008

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