Slow download speeds or issues downloading VOD files

We want to make sure you're always able to download the products you've purchased, but this is the Internet, and connection problems can happen.  There are generally three possible explanations:
  1. Your local network or ISP is having a DNS or routing-related problem reaching our server;
  2. Our file isn't being served by our high-performance edge servers, and is instead being served from the slower storage at Amazon S3.
  3. There is some bottleneck happening "upstream" from your ISP, between your ISP and our download servers.

Slow download speeds


Our CDN (content delivery network) of choice, Verizon EdgeCast, is one of the largest in the world, and in most cases should be able to serve you our large files as quickly as your Internet connection will allow. 

If your downloads are going unusually slow, it typically means the large file you're attempting to download is not being served from our high performance cache, but is instead being served through Amazon S3 - which is generally slower than the edge servers.

Also, due to the complexity of the Internet and the way the servers are connected - our servers do not connect to you directly, rather your file download connection "hops" from one server to another, between EdgeCast and your computer - meaning each one of those hops adds another two potential points of failure. Unfortunately, diagnosing these issues is tricky, but with the following directions we can do our best.

To diagnose this, we can very quickly try to download the file through wget. Note: this is best done immediately after discovering a slow download.

Test #1: Ping our server.

Difficulty: easy

Pinging a server will make sure that your DNS information is accurate, and that network latency (the delay caused by information being exchanged between you and our server) is not so bad that it is causing problems.

First, open a command line for your system:

OSX: Applications > Utilities > Terminal -> Open a new Terminal window.
Windows: Start > type "cmd" into the Search text field and press Enter. (This is a DOS prompt.)


At the command-line, type:

ping edge-large.rifftrax.com

and let it run.

You'll see something that looks like this:


Copy and paste the Ping output into a Help ticket.

Test #2: Run a traceroute to our server.

Difficulty: easy

Running a Traceroute gives us more specific, detailed insight into the "hops" along your connection.

The path that any Internet transfer takes many hops between you and the server sending you its data. Because the Internet is such a vast web of interconnected servers, it's completely possible that even just one server along that path can be a cause for delayed or interrupted downloads. Traceroute data will help us isolate any problematic server.

Unlike with Ping, Traceroute is slightly different between to the two major operating systems:

OSX: In Terminal, type:
traceroute edge-large.rifftrax.com
Windows: At the DOS prompt, type
tracert edge-large.rifftrax.com 
You'll see output like this:

In this case it looks like Telia.net in Las Vegas is having slightly higher latency than everyone else, but nothing that could cause a dropped download.

Copy and paste the traceroute input into your ticket or email.

Test #4: create an MTR record. 

Difficulty: medium

This is the best test and will provide our EdgeCast support engineers with valuable data that will help them troubleshoot and solve the issue, or at least let us figure out which "hop" along your network path is the reason for the download trouble.

OSX/Linux: the command-line application mtr is usually included. Enter this command:
mtr edge-large.rifftrax.com
Windows:

1. Download the application WinMTR from winmtr.net.

2. Next, in the MTR application, create a request to the server edge-large.rifftrax.com. Let the application run for a minute or so (you do not have to keep it running indefinitely), but save the output as a text file.

Once you have an MTR log file saved, attach it to a Help ticket and continue onto Step 3: Send us an email!

Test #4: try to download the file using wget.

Difficulty: medium to advanced

OSX: Open a Terminal window (Applications > Utilities > Terminal).
Windows: You'll need to download wget for Windows from this link.

Enter the command:
wget -SO yourfilename.ext http://edge-large.rifftrax.com/yourfilename.ext?token=abunchoftext
(the full URL and filename of the file you are downloading may vary)

Once wget has begun transferring your fi9le, copy and paste the full output (including - and especially - the Response Headers) into your support ticket or email. You can then cancel the download, or let it run if you prefer.

Downloads being dropped / server disconnecting

1. Make sure it's not your network (or computer) first!


Check to see if you're using any Internet Security programs, such as BitDefender, which can sometimes interrupt a download. 

Try power cycling your router or modem (turning them off and on again, for you IT Crowd fans). Sometimes, a weak or flaky connection - especially on a wireless router - can cause downloads to halt. If your ISP is having network-related trouble, this can cause "server not found" errors; a reboot of your cable modem may fix this. If it doesn't, continue to Step 2.

All Internet connections rely on what's called DNS. This stands for "Domain Name System" and is essentially a phone book for websites. Our website is part of a global network of servers, and this DNS "phone book" helps your web browser know exactly which servers it needs to talk to in order to get the file you want to download. Sometimes, parts of the connection pathway can have this DNS information garbled or just plain missing -- your cable modem, your wireless router, even the network routing hardware at your provider - may need to refresh their DNS lookup data for a specific site or website server address, and rebooting your hardware can ensure your network has access to the most up-to-date information. (For more detailed information on DNS, see this Wiki article.)

If rebooting your modem or router fails to solve the issue, please try the steps above, especially "traceroute" and "MTR Record."


If all else fails, send us an email.


Perhaps there is a configuration problem on our servers, or a file not properly being held in the cache, etc.

Submit a Help ticket and we'll check into it as soon as possible. At the very least, we will need your IP address and the full filename of the file you are attempting to download. Failure to include these in your email could cause a delay in your ticket being resolved. You can find your IP address easily by visiting ipmonkey.com.

We highly recommend going through the troubleshooting steps above (running ping, traceroute, or collecting MTR) and then attaching those as text files, or copy-and-pasting them into your Help ticket.

For more information on troubleshooting network/routing issues with MTR and traceroute, see this in-depth explainer at Digital Ocean.

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