Is My Internet Connection Ready for Polaris?

This is a question I am asked all the time and the answer is usually, “It depends”.  Although a T1 is plenty fast to run Polaris with no problems, even a T1 will have slow performance if it is running at 100% capacity because of other usage.  Others may think that they won’t have performance problems because they have a cable connection at 20Mbs download speed.  Well, you’re probably right, a 20Mbs download rate is very good, but we have to keep in mind the upload rate, and the usage as well.  Usually it is sufficient, but we need to test your connection anyway.  I have created a special website that is hosted on our servers at SHARE.  This test will tell you exactly how fast your connection speed is, all the way to our servers.  It is simple to use, and you can run it as many times as you need to.

Step 1: Go to http://speedtest.illinoisheartland.org

Step 2: Click the icon:

Step 3: Scroll down and check your results

You’ll see a summary at the bottom of the page that looks like this:

Last Result:
Download Speed: 7626 kbps (953.3 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 27270 kbps (3408.8 KB/sec transfer rate)
Latency: 17 ms
 

The most important number in this result is the Latency figure (ping time).  The latency, or ping, is the number of milliseconds it takes to get a single packet of information from your library to our servers and back to your library again.  Anything under 100ms is acceptable, and should provide good performance to Polaris.  There are a lot of variables that can affect this number, so if it’s over 100ms, just let us know, and we’ll work with you to see where the problem may exist.  Unfortunately, we won’t be able to solve every problem for you, but we should be able to point you in the right direction.

Upload and Download speeds are also important.  This test measures the actual bandwidth that is available to you at the moment of the test.  So if other users are using the Internet at the time this test was run, then your speed might be lower than you expect.  That is perfectly normal.  Polaris only needs a small amount of available bandwidth to run.  Somewhere around 200 kbps Upload AND Download, is enough to run 2 or 3 staff machines (as long as the latency value is small). 

You are encouraged to run this test multiple times throughout the day.  Run it when there’s no one in the library and compare the results with times when the library is very busy.  If you have questions about the results, feel free to email me, tbrown@illinoisheartland.org, the results and I’ll do my best to let you know where you stand.