Ncube Digital review Traffic Shaper XP. A review by ncubedigital.com

Published: 15th April 2010
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Recently Ncube Digital had a need for a bandwidth limiter.
After searching numerous websites Ncube Digital came across "Traffic Shaper XP" from www.bandwidthcontroller.com, the product seemed to have great reviews and did what it said on the tin, unfortunately after a week or so Ncube Digital noticed that the program also had some odd side effects. In this article Ncube Digital review the software giving a full account of the features and side effects of the software.

First Ncube Digital would like to give an introduction to the software by quoting the blurb from the programs website...

"Bandwidth Controller is a complete traffic shaping package for Windows 2000, XP and 2003 Server. It allows network administrators to limit internet usage in real-time using a high performance processing core.

The bandwidth manager can be installed on each computer on the network or deployed centrally on a gateway or internet server. Not only does this help to save bandwidth but it also provides a network free of congestion caused by large downloads, P2P, games and video streaming.

The built-in bandwidth meter makes it possible to view all bandwidth usage with the option to limit each connection separately. Traffic streams are allocated by the manager using a system of fair sharing so that each computer is given equal access to the internet resource. Time-sensitive data such as VoIP is prioritized over other traffic, maintaining a high quality of service for important applications."

The Ncube digital review of this software isn't great unfortunately. On the "tin" this product seems to have all the capabilities that you would want from a bandwidth limiter, it has a nice easy installation, is "fairly" simple to use, even for a novice and when enabling a rule the bandwidth is limited.

The software unfortunately has its drawbacks which Ncube Digital discovered. Firstly the "limiting" isn't really the best or most precise method. For those of you who have used a half decent ftp client or news group client, their built in limiters are great. the bandwidth will climb until it reaches its peak then the limiter kicks in and steadily holds that speed within a couple of Kb/s. Traffic Shaper XP on the other hand will climb rapidly, hit its limit (or 10-20Kb/s above the limit frequently) then drops down or stops completely until those packets are received or sent before climbing again, meaning as an average (based on a 100Kb/s limit) your speed is actually around 60Kb/s and is far from smooth. The product does do what it says though in so much as it limits your bandwidth.

The main issue with this software though is not the clunky limiting mechanism, or even the fact that it actually ends up limiting the speed below what you set it at, the main issue is that, for example, on an 8Mbit connection even when all rules are disabled and it has no limits set, you actually get between 2-3Mbit slower, even when ending the process that runs the software in the background. General LAN speed is also greatly diminished meaning if you are on a business or home network and are transferring files etc you get nowhere near the full potential of your LAN/WLAN.

All in all if limiting is something you really need then go for it, however if it is just occasional limiting that you require, ncube digital would not recommend this product at all.
Jason Hall is the Director of NCube digital Ltd. He specialises in networking, process & service development, business consultancy and project management under the brand of NCube Digital at ncubedigital.com.

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