Slow Internet at home or office after iOS5 upgrade

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Article Written By Niles Nerd


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Thousands of people will be downloading iOS5 today and excitedly activating the iCloud features, especially the iCloud Backup feature, which everyone should enable!
However, what many will experience is that their entire office or home Internet connection will slow to a crawl and that is very frustrating.
The iCloud backup activates when both of these occur:

  1. iPhone/iPad/iPod screen is locked
  2. Device is plugged in (to electrical outlet or computer)

If that’s what you tend to do when you’re at home or the office, the iCloud Backup will start working hard and will consume all of your available outbound bandwidth to send the backup to the cloud.
Most consumer-grade routers (which are commonly used in offices, too, by the way) don’t have any intelligent traffic management capability. The result is that when your outgoing capacity is at its maximum – what we often call saturated – it affects your incoming traffic as well, because part of the protocol of Internet data transfer is the continuous outgoing confirmation packets your computer sends to acknowledge to the source that you received what you were looking for. When those acknowledgements are wedged in between the iCloud Backup packets, it slows them down, and therefore your downloads and just plain web browsing are dramatically impacted.
Here is a traffic graph example of a fairly common North-American Business Grade Internet connection with 6Mbps download and 640kbps upload capacity. When a file is uploaded with absolutely no traffic control (some aspects referred to as Quality of Service or Traffic Shaping or Bandwidth Control), this is what it looks like. All the available outbound traffic in this particular example is consumed by a Youtube upload. Astaro’s Traffic Graph is great for simple real-time visualization of where traffic is going to and coming from.

So what can you do about it?
The simple answer is: get a better, smarter router, or even a Unified Threat Management appliance. Three products that we provide with guaranteed results are:

  • ClearOS as a gateway with Bandwidth optimization subscription and optimization
  • Cisco Routers with Quality of Service features enabled and tested
  • Untangle as a Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliance with Bandwidth Management subscription
  • Astaro Security Gateway appliance – even the Free Security Essentials offers Quality of Service features

This may seem like too many options, but of course we have nerds standing by to help you choose which product is a better fit.
What can Apple do about it?
Most products that consume significant amount of outgoing bandwidth have a bandwidth throttle feature where you can specify the maximum number of kilobits per second to consume. It would be great if Apple could include that in a future iOS5 update.
What’s your experience so far?
[UPDATE: added ClearOS as an option with some additional details]

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