What to do with spare download bandwidth?
June 1, 2008 10:57 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything meaningful I can do with 10Mbps worth of spare download bandwidth?

My ISP recently has an offer on a 10Mbps connection, under a 2-year contract. I've been thinking about getting a separate connection, mainly because the price is good and because I want a good upload bandwidth for torrent-seeding (don't ask).

That plan comes with 1Mbps upload bandwidth which, as mentioned, will be largely used for torrent-seeding. That leaves the 10Mbps download bandwidth largely unemployed. I will still be downloading every so often, but hardly enough to put more than the occasional dent in it.

This is where I need to pick your brains. Are there any meaningful projects out there requiring spare bandwidth, and if so, how can I contribute? Is there are other way I can put it to good use?

I've also been thinking about social network-related experiments and data-logging webcrawlers that would gather historical, social and other data (of course, ideally without maiming other servers), but have yet to think of a meaningful way to turn that into useful insights or conclusions.

If anyone has ideas on what to do with that download bandwidth (that would preferably leave my upload bandwidth alone), please hit me with them =)
posted by kureshii to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: To clarify, I was largely inspired by projects, such as these two (We Feel Fine and Universe) by Jonathan Harris. I probably won't be hosting the results since that requires plenty upload bandwidth, and I'm not that proficient. I am open to other suggestions as well.
posted by kureshii at 11:03 PM on June 1, 2008

Be very careful that your ISP doesn't have quotas, throttling or a 'fair use policy' applied to heavy upload usage. Pretty much every ISP these days will cut down hard on anyone using 'excessive' traffic, regardless of its content. Torrent seeding especially takes a kicking from targeted throttling.

Business grade connections are rather different than consumer grade, but that's because of the price difference. I'm sure you've already accounted for that and tested using your current line though.

I'll have a think of anything you could use the download bandwidth for. It's rather axiomatic that downloading is retrieving something from someone else, for then further processing, and uploading the smaller results back up. The only reason to do such a thing, given the cost of their upload bandwidth, would to apply another resource they lack, such as distributed cheap CPU horsepower, or to download lots of small data from the wider internet for collation as you've suggested.

Video transcoding for a public video project using h264 codecs is a possibility; the CPU horsepower required is large, as is the time required to do so, significantly exceeding the transfer time of the raw files, though they are also very large.

BOINC and seti are less suitable, as the datasets are small - the work is really just CPU bound.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:24 AM on June 2, 2008

Another possibility springs to mind if you're in a public-ish area; a free or paid for wireless access network for public access. Fon, or chillispot are a couple of examples.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:35 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could start a streaming radio program, or maybe figure out a way to help an existing one with their bandwidth costs (not sure if the latter is possible). SomaFM, one of my favorites, is currently struggling financially.
posted by knave at 7:44 AM on June 2, 2008

Perhaps I am misreading this: You have a 10/1 connection but plan to use that 1mbps upload for seeding. That doesnt leave you anything but 10 down. I dont know what kind of demand there is to download things to your network. Usually people looking for donated bandwidth need the "up" end of your connection.

On top of it your ISP's TOS may prohibit you from doing a lot of these things.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:25 AM on June 2, 2008

My ISP recently has an offer on a 10Mbps connection, under a 2-year contract. I've been thinking about getting a separate connection

It's almost always a better idea to get the second connection from a different ISP, even better if it's over a different type of link. E.g. DSL over the phone line, and Cable service over the cable line. This way, when one ISP has a network problem you can still access the internet over the other connection.

There is very little you can do with unused download bandwidth that doesn't require significant upload bandwidth as well - this is why ISPS give you so much of it. Download bandwidth is limited by what you can do with it. You can only download so much stuff to your hard drive before your drive is full. You can only stream so much stuff to listen or watch. Etc.
posted by jcdill at 4:28 PM on June 2, 2008

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