August 11, 2011

Tip 44: How Fast is That Download in the Window

This tip is for Windows Vista, 2008 RTM, 2008 R2 and 7.

Your Internet Explorer download window may be lying to you. If so,
how can you tell? Your Youtube video is taking forever to play, or is stopping.
How fast is your connection? Sure, you can try one of the download speed tests,
but do you really care how fast your connection is to some arbitrary site?
Probably not; more likely you care about sites and files that you are actually
downloading. This tip will show you how you can tell exactly how fast you are
downloading files off of the network. I use this all of the time as I travel
and use a 3G/4G air card and like to check on how fast my file downloads really
are since they can take a while and I am impatient.

A tool was introduced in Windows Vista, which at the time was
called Reliability and Performance
and now is called Resource Monitor. Using this tool, I will show you how to do a quick check of your
network download speeds.

are many ways to open Resource Monitor, in Windows 7 and 2008 R2 you can go to
Start and type resmon. You can also
open the Task Manager first and go to the Performance tab and click the
Resource Monitor button. You will want to do this while you are downloading so
you can see the real-time information that Resource Monitor displays.

To verify your download speed, click the
Overview tab and look under the Network panel. This will show a list on all of
the processes on your machine that are using the network. You can sort the
columns, so click on the Receive (B/sec)
column and sort by the highest bytes per second. In the image below you can see
my Internet Explorer downloads window is reporting that I am downloading the
file at 233KB/sec, wow! That would be great for my 3G connection.
Unfortunately, the reality is a little different. Resource Monitor is reporting
that iexplore.exe is Receive (B/sec) is 75,039. For anyone that does not know
how to convert bytes to kilobytes, 233KB does not equal 75,039B. 😉 So Internet
Explorer is reporting that my download speed is 233 x 1024, or 238,592 bytes
per second and Resource Monitor is reporting 75,039 bytes per second. Hmm,
something is not right here. Internet Explorer does recalculate while it is
downloading and the download speed did get closer to the correct number, but
was not perfect and it took some minutes before it was close. Another good use
is when you do not have a nice download window with the download speed
displayed, as in the case of playing an online video, this works well for
playing Netflix videos on your computer also. You can use Resource Monitor the
same way to track how fast your video is downloading.



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