Sunday, February 01, 2009

Google's M-Lab Lets You See What Your ISP Is Doing

With more ISPs promising to crack down on Torrent users and potentially throttling bandwidth as they see fit users need a way to fight back. Google has recent;y announced the creation of Measurement Lab (M-Lab), an open system that researchers and consumers can use to access its new Internet performance measurement tools.

M-Labs features several tools that allow users to, among other things, measure the speed of their connection, run diagnostics, and attempt to discern if their ISP is blocking or throttling particular application. These tools send and receive small pieces of data from servers across the web. That data is then used as a comparison against other results, showing you a snapshot of your results and where your connection compares.acronis true image 11

According to Google there is a lack of widely-distributed servers with ample connectivity for researchers and users to use. This poses a barrier to the accuracy and scalability of these tools. M-Lab aims to address these problems. Over the course of early 2009, Google will provide researchers with 36 servers in 12 locations in the U.S. and Europe. All data collected via M-Lab will be made publicly available for other researchers to build on. M-Lab is intended to be a truly community-based effort, and we welcome the support of other companies, institutions, researchers, and users that want to provide servers, tools, or other resources that can help the platform flourish.

Currently M-Labs offers three tools, with two more listed. These tools help users attempt to diagnose common problems limiting their broadband speed, as well as determine whether BitTorrent is being blocked or throttled by their ISPs.

These tools were created by the individual researchers who helped found M-Lab. By running these tools, users will get information about their connection and provide researchers with valuable aggregate data. Like M-Lab itself these tools are still in development, and they will only support a limited number of simultaneous users at this initial stage.

With the number of users connected limited expect to wait if you want to try out these tools. I've stopped by the site a few times, every time there has been a significant wait time.

You can read more about M-Lab on the Google Blog and get more details about the project at M-Lab's website. If you're a researcher who'd like to deploy a tool, or a company or institution that is interested in providing technical resources, Google wants to invite you to get involved.

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