University officials are right to place a usage limit on all file-sharing programs in residence halls – the future of fast Internet service at GW now rests in student’s hands.
File sharing is an integral part of student life in colleges across the country. Even after the government shut down Napster, a plethora of new file-sharing programs have emerged and now have a permanent place in cyber-society. They are important in fostering an “open academic environment.”
File-sharing programs such as KaZaA, Morpheous and LimeWire, however, have the potential to dramatically slow down the entire University network because of student ignorance to bandwidth (the amount of information a server can process at once) constraints. Many students do not realize or do not care that new versions of these programs, especially KaZaA Version 2, significantly slow the University network, which connects all on-campus Ethernet to the Internet by occupying exorbitant percentages of the bandwidth.
Students often complain about slow Webmail connections and overall Internet speed, but many do not realize the programs they are running contribute to the problem. The new version of KaZaA, which is designed to use more bandwidth than other programs in order to increase downloading speed, caused University network traffic to nearly double early this year and slowdown the network.
GW technology officials were forced to act to preserve acceptable network speeds. It is commendable that a temporary solution was found while still allowing students to continue using popular file-sharing programs. GW’s restriction limits the percentage of bandwidth each residence hall can use, but for long-term solution students must contribute to solving this problem.
When students sign onto KaZaA their computer is also acting as a server to the KaZaA community – allowing other users to download from their collection of music or other files. This, unbeknownst to many students, occupies as much, if not more, bandwidth than downloads because other users are attracted to the high speeds of GW network users. By shutting off the file sharing option, students will still have access to download from KaZaA but will alleviate much-needed bandwidth and open it up to the rest of the GW community. Outside KaZaA users will be unable to leech off the University network, which slows down students’ e-mail.
With the limited capacity of bandwidth, students should be considerate to the community with whom they share Internet connection. Students, to help sustain acceptable Internet connectivity, should turn off the file sharing option, exit KaZaA when not using it, limit use during peak hours and download in off-peak hours.