Vista will make your torrents go faster!

Series of tubesEver since 2005, Windows Vista’s network team has been confidently promoting the new network stack in Windows Vista. For those who don’t know, a network stack or any stack for that matter is the foundation of an operating system which implements the various protocols. This is the software that will have the direct interface to your network hardware, and all other network applications such as Internet Explorer and Bittorent will utilize this network stack to send and receive data across a network. Their claim in 2005 was that the new network stack will deliver higher thoroughput and increase network performance for most users around the world. That’s a pretty bold claim.

When anyone claims they can make your internet go faster, you should be skeptical of it. But the Microsoft people seemed rather confident, and didn’t want to sell me any homeloans, replica watches or pills. So I took up the challenge.

Will Windows Vista really make my network and especially internet speeds faster?

I performed 4 tests to prove/disprove their claim. I used a tool called iperf, which measures the maximum TCP bandwidth. I ran this tool 10 times for each operating system, half on a wired 100Mbit ethernet connection, and half on a 54Mbit Wifi 802.11g connection. And because TCP/IP is an asynchronous connection, that is for every data I receive, I send data, therefore I didn’t bother testing upload as it would have affected my download results anyway.

Results

Wifi network performance
Ethernet network performance

Get this

If those two graphs make you feel you’re sitting through a Steve Jobs keynote, here’s the summary. On average, using 54Mbit Wifi,

  • Vista transferred 25.4MB in 10 seconds using an average of 2661.4KB/s
  • Where as XP only transferred 22.2MB using an average of 2321.4KB/s
  • Vista transferred 3.2MB more in 10 seconds with an increase in speed of 340KB/s. An improvement of 14.6%.

Using 100Mbit Ethernet,

  • Vista transferred 112.8MB in 10 seconds using an average of 11.5MB/s
  • Where as XP only transferred 103.1MB using an average of 10.5MB/s
  • Vista transferred 9.7MB more in 10 seconds with an increase in speed of 1MB/s. An improvement of 9.5%.

Conclusion

So the results are clear, Windows Vista definitely improves TCP/IP network thoroughput, but how does this translate to a real-world situation? Of course in a real-world environment where George Bush actually controls countries outside of his elected government, there are many more factors affecting the download and upload speed. But let’s presume these factors do not fluctuate, you have an adequately fast connection, and you only change operating systems. If you were to legally download a movie using Bittorent, but since I’ve never done it, let’s just presume the file size is 1.5GB. You could cut your download times by 10%. If you were on a 1Mbit connection, you could save 18 minutes. If you were on a 10Mbit connection, you could save 2 minutes.

However, remember TCP/IP is an asynchronous connection. Therefore, if everyone who is seeding that movie switches from XP to Vista, the network performance across the board will improve by even more than 10%. And this not only affects file downloads, everything from online games such as Counter-Strike to even iTunes will benefit from this increase in network performance.

47 insightful thoughts

  1. Definitely interesting, but is there a reason the tests only ran 10 seconds? Do they hold up for longer periods of time, like 1 minute or 2?

    It sure would be interesting to see tests on the actual Internet, despite the unpredictability of it, since that’s what really matters. Until then, this is pretty academic.

  2. @Rick: Good point. 10 seconds because because I was in such a rush and didn’t exactly try to make it run longer. And I thought 10 seconds was long enough for a connection to stabilize. I presume longer tests will reflect similar results, but I’ve yet to try.

  3. I have noticed an increase in download (not upload) speed via the internet. Simply going by 4Mb/s broadband modem connection, Windows XP gives me a download speed of approx 330kbps whereas with Windows Vista the average is 498kbps – a massive increase.

  4. @Steve: I really hope you mean KBps, not kbps.

    It occurs to me now that this may not have anything to do with the TCP/IP stack but rather the TCP/IP parameters. The default TCP/IP parameters in XP are not exactly ideal for broadband. Experimenting on XP with something like the acclaimed TCP Optimizer (http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php) has been known to yield dramatic speed increases, and it would give you a better indication of the true ability of XP.

    I’m assuming that since Vista is new it’s really smart about using the right TCP/IP parameters, but I haven’t begun to look into that.

  5. Could it be, that you seriously messed up the Y scales in the graph??

    Please compare the bandwidth numbers given with the green and blue bars and its scale (LEFT is bandwidth scale). You will notice, that it does not fit together!

    I assume, that bandwidth and transfer scales/numbers are switched. However, the given graph is NOT valid as it is.

    Thunderbyte

  6. Thank you for spotting that mistake Thunderbyte. I did mess up my graph, the Y scales were swapped between left and right. I’ve fixed it up now. Thanks :)

  7. Hi,

    I think the result of your iperf test won’t be very helpful unless you also provide the configuration you are using, say the MTU value.

    One of the interesting things you may want to do is to set the MTU of your xp machine to 128 and try the tests again and it won’t surprise me if you find this time vista is several times faster than xp in terms of bandwidth.

    ;)

  8. @Lei Ni: Whilst I agree with your point about different configurations, but remember both of these setups are on the “default” settings. True, the MTU is changeable, and easily changeable for that matter, but to the end-user, most won’t change their MTUs. And for that, I think these results are relevant.

    But I do not disregard your claim that changing the MTUs may heavily influence the results.

    Thanks for the feedback.

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  10. Interesting that you were able to get such good results… I’m running a gigabit network and a Vista to XP transfer is only running around 4mb/s. Not sure what the issue is.

  11. Interesting test!

    Can anyone tell me how to change the MTU value in Vista? The usual keys used in the XP Registry doesn’t work.

    Thanks
    Paolo

  12. hows about a second test! run both systems through tcp optimizer then do the same test. change to maybe 30 secs. I am curious to see if how much it improves vista as no one has mentioned if tcp opt. will work on vista. Also I am awaiting a new 25 mbit service from shaw nov.15 and want to know if I should go back to xp.

  13. Vista & Longhorn include a new implementation of the TCP/IP protocol suite known as the “Next Generation TCP/IP stack”. The TCP/IP protocol stack provided with XP and Windows Server 2003 was originally designed in the early 1990s and was modified and enhanced over time to meet the needs of home and enterprise users. The Next Generation TCP/IP stack in Vista and Longhorn is a complete redesign of TCP/IP functionality for both IPv4 & IPv6..

  14. People have told me not to use vista and torrents together because it will be detected. Any truth to this vs. the detectability of torrents while using XP?

  15. Ok, I want to belive Vist is faster, BUT….how do I configure it to do so? At the moment, web browsing is at 1.5Mbps but downloading torrents (using Azureus) maxs out at 100Kbps. The firewall is turned off and its still slow! Can sombody tell me how to configure my system to get results like the graph?

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  17. Hi could someone help me as I am a novice at computers and really don’t have a clue. I am on vista and using utorrent and the very best I can get it to download at is 39kB/s but its usually a very slow 1-4kB/s. I really need help. Anyone?!

  18. I have the program that will do the mtu for u in in vista i clould send it to u if want like thru mail aim or any other chatting prg i useing it now did wonders for my connextion in bit torrent

  19. My bitlord downloads are alot slower on vista than on XP. I have the same compy running both of them at the same time… what gives??

  20. Yah right. I can barely get a download speed for Utorrent that is faster than 1 kb/s. I can’t get a port to open and port forwarding isn’t working. But before when I had Windows 2000 I still couldn’t get an open port but it was still WAY faster than it is now.

  21. hi, i am using azurueus and am having major problems with my download speed. i cant even get it to be over 10 kb/s, what can i do to get it like 150 or higher?? id rather not wait 10 years for my torrents… thanks!

  22. i do not know why but on XP on my desktop i had symmetric upload and download but now i have vista home basic [fully activated] with same isp configured on my laptop i got download ok but no upload
    i configured firewall and putforward the port that utorrent is using – still no go
    i even shutdown zonealarm and windows firewall and restarted utorrent – still no [symmetric] upload – that ‘s download ok but no upload !!!!!
    i am baffled – i guess i have to load winXP on my laptop to resolve issues – any suggestions welcome !!!plz help

  23. my laptop is Compaq presario A902TU with 500 mb Ram and 160 gb HDD [sata,5400 rpm] -realtek ethernet software drivers
    my desktop is intel 3gz , 750 mb ram and dlink ethernet card and software -internal
    isp remains the same- as now the same is configured as wired connection on my laptop [desktop burnt out by me - i was furious regd. it's performance and occasional issues]
    any suggestions – i do not want to install the pirated winXP on my laptop although it worked ok on my desktop for quite sometime without updates ofcourse !!!!!!!
    as on date i have the fully activated preinstalled vista home basic with issue described in my earlier comments
    i do not know if’s vista denying my upload thru utorrents !!!
    plz help

  24. hi ive got vista premium, and i can down load from limwire but not urtorrent or vuze, i got a d link dsl 302g modem
    a dual core 3.2, 6 gig of ddr3 ram, 1 gig video card nivida, and 2 TB, and just built it up my self a lot cheaper, it did say some thing the other day about unstable ports, and on utorrent where ppl get the green tick i got nothing

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