Why Are Most Cloud File Transfer Services So Slow?

by | June 1, 2022

Alright, let’s get down to brass tacks. Why are most cloud file transfer services so slow?

After all, your office has a 10 gigabit internet connection at your disposal. Shouldn’t files zip through your cloud file transfer solution and complete its delivery in record time?

Ideally, yes, but it is a poorly-known fact that internet speed does not correlate to high performance in cloud applications. Not enough internet or network congestion can influence your speed but it’s likely that your cloud file transfer service is intentionally limiting their bandwidth to save on costs and balance other requests.

In this post, I’ll explore why some cloud file transfer services purposely slow down speeds. I’ll also discuss TCP vs UDP delivery (and a common misconception about TCP’s effectiveness), and why MASV’s new 10Gbps optimization is about to change cloud delivery forever.

Deliver Files at Top Speed

MASV uses up to 90% of your available network bandwidth to send files.

Slow Speeds? It’s More Common Than You Think.

There’s a fascinating video from YouTube’s Linus Tech Tips about his upgrade to 10Gbps internet – also known as 10 gigabit, 10G, 10 GbE, or 10 GE – back in 2019.

After switching to a dedicated 10Gbps fibre line and running speed tests, no matter what he tried, Linus couldn’t get his new connection to run higher than around 2.6Gbps.

“Alright, we’re going to have to find something else,” he eventually says, his frustration mounting. “What can we… like, what can we hit with this?”

Turns out there wasn’t anything readily available. Web browsers generally max out at around 3 to 4Gbps.

Indeed, it’s a common scenario among those who require the absolute fastest internet performance possible. But why?

Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks suck but they help keep computer hardware and software from getting overwhelmed and crashing all together. They also help network providers manage their costs. 10Gbps is a lot of bandwidth. To accommodate all that bandwidth, cloud services would require powerful servers, better cooling, maintenance, etc. All those upgrades cost time, money, and energy.

As we explain in our network congestion blog post, download and upload performance (and, therefore, overall file transfer turnaround time) are only as fast as the weakest link in your network. That includes all your hardware, cables, applications, and configurations (along with whether or not you use WiFi and, if you do, how often you use your microwave oven).

Dong Knows Tech provides a great rundown of potential bottlenecks in your network.

Although networking technology has advanced a great deal since Linus made his video in 2019, the bottleneck problem hasn’t changed much for large studios and post houses who have invested in a costly 10Gbps connection.

To get the most out of that expensive connection, users must optimize their entire network and infrastructure to handle such speeds — including their cloud file transfer solution.

Cloud file transfer with MASV

How MASV distributes network bandwidth

Why Some File Transfer Tools Choose To Be Slow?

So with that in mind, let’s talk why some cloud file transfer tools deliberately choose to be slow(er) than expected, especially if you have a Linus-level 10Gbps connection. The answer, just as I mentioned above, is money. Most consumer-grade file sharing, sync, and transfer services aren’t willing to upgrade to the infrastructure or pay the extra server egress fees needed to accommodate gigabit-grade data transfer.

There’s a good business reason for that.

Freemium-style platforms such as WeTransfer are available for free or through a relatively low monthly fee. It doesn’t make sense for them to incur significant infrastructure costs when most users don’t need such high performance.

For example, anyone with a 10Gbps connection transferring with Google Drive will inevitably top out at Google Drive’s speed limit. There are tricks to speed things up, but not by much – assuming your file isn’t too large for Google Drive’s strict file size limitations (almost a certainty if you work with high-resolution video files).

And because many cloud file transfer solutions like WeTransfer are only available via browser, they’re ultimately limited by browser speed even if they were to upgrade their infrastructure.

🎥 Speed Test: MASV vs WeTransfer Pro: MASV 2X Faster in Uploads, 10X in Downloads!

What About UDP File Transfer?

You might be thinking, what of UDP file transfer? UDP is proven to max out speeds and send files as fast as possible.

This is true.

Some large file transfer solutions, especially those with expensive on-premises solutions, like Aspera, offer up to 10Gbps connectivity via user datagram protocol (UDP) file transfer. If your goal is simply to send files to the finish line, UDP is the fastest solution available. Unfortunately, UDP-based file transfer has well-documented reliability and fairness issues.

We’ve talked about the cost implications of bandwidth usage and why some cloud services choose to put the brakes on. But, it’s also worth noting throttles help distribute bandwidth among multiple users; at-home or in an office, for example.

UDP has a reputation of soaking up too much bandwidth for one event and slowing down other users thanks to its brute-force protocol style. This is because UDP doesn’t require many of the strict formalities (such as a “congestion control”) that govern the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), another widely-used protocol for exchanging data on the internet.

Additionally, with UDP, If data packets (known as datagrams) don’t arrive or arrive corrupted or in the wrong order, the data is not re-sent – as is the case with TCP.

While UDP has developed a reputation as being faster than TCP — mainly because it doesn’t slow down to make sure everyone’s along for the ride (as we’ll see below) — that’s not necessarily the case.

TCP vs UDP: A Common Misconception

“TCP is slower than UDP.”

That’s not true. TCP is just more sensitive to network latency and congestion.

That’s a feature, not a bug: TCP detects such latency and slows down on purpose to decrease wasted bandwidth and limit re-transmission of data that could be lost on the way to its destination. Moreover, when TCP perceives congestion, it adapts automatically in order to be fair to all users in the network.

But there are ways to accelerate TCP-based file transfer while keeping these fundamental elements of reliability and fairness. All you have to do is minimize latency, and, suddenly, any speed problems melt away.

Fair, Reliable, and Fast Large File Delivery

Why MASV’s TCP technology is never a bottleneck

Let us, for a moment, compare network and internet traffic with highway traffic.

In this analogy, services reliant on public internet use the equivalent of congested, potholed side roads to send your files. They’re very slow. Indeed, any public internet connection’s “last mile” is typically made of older technology such as coaxial cables and phone lines.

Additionally, these services only provide one vehicle to transport your data. That means you’ll need multiple road trips to complete a large delivery on these congested side roads.

MASV gets around these issues by:

  1. Routing your trip through our private, dedicated, congestion-free highway built on the cloud (MASV’s global-accelerated network).
  2. Ensuring on- and off-ramps to this highway are as close to you and your recipients as possible (300+ servers peppered across the world).
  3. Dispatching multiple vehicles rather than one big truck — AKA MASV’s acceleration technology; a process by which we split larger files into smaller pieces via logic (which equates to faster, more manageable transfers, and easier retries in the event of a network crash).
  4. MASV Multiconnect for a bonded internet connection, so you can get your data to our private highway much faster.

At the same time, MASV’s TCP-based technology always respects the rules of the road while UDP transfers tend to bully other drivers and cause unfortunate accidents. That’s why so many UDP packets get dropped, and why UDP traffic is frequently blocked by networks and often requires time-consuming firewall configurations.

But you can’t blame consumer-grade file sync platforms or UDP-based transfer for any of these issues. Cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive, for example, weren’t designed for sending large media files quickly, reliably, and fairly. And neither was UDP.

MASV, however, was designed from Day 1 for this express purpose.

MASV's global TCP cloud file transfer solution

Can Cloud Services Support 10Gbps Speeds?

All this to say, are production facilities with 10Gbps bandwidth doomed to expensive UDP solutions or throttled speeds until cloud file transfer solutions can catch up to their infrastructure?

The answer is no. MASV is the only cloud file transfer solution available today that is optimized for true 10 gigabit delivery.

Our 10Gbps optimization allows any studio, post house, or other large-scale production facility unmatched upload and download speeds with the reliability and fairness of TCP.

Any MASV user with more than 5Gbps of bandwidth can enable this feature. Simply download the MASV desktop app (browsers can’t handle this speed) and flip a switch to turn on 10Gbps availability.

It’s all on the same infrastructure on which MASV was built, with no expensive upgrades on our end required.

MASV is the first cloud file transfer solution to optimize for 10Gbps transfer speeds

What makes you faster than other cloud providers?

It’s a fair question.

Up top, we mentioned that most cloud services aren’t willing to spend the money for speeds of this magnitude.

The difference is, we already did.

Subscription-based file transfer services optimize their product based on volume of users not performance. Since MASV is pay-as-you-go, we don’t make money until the file has been successfully downloaded, which means all MASV transfers have to deliver. From the start, speed and reliability has been our core focus, which is why we never throttle deliveries. With 10Gbps optimization, we’re extending that focus to larger organizations.

Gigabit File Transfer

Whether it’s 1, 5, or 10Gbps, MASV can handle it.

What MASV’s 10Gbps Optimization Means For Cloud Delivery?

For large organizations with 10Gbps connections, the benefit of MASV’s new optimization is obvious. In fact, we recently ran a speed test on an optimized network comparing MASV’s standard 1Gbps connection (which is already pretty darn fast) with our new 10Gbps optimization.

The results were sizzling, resulting in an approximately 89 percent increase in speed 🔥:

1 TB package (1Gbps) = 2h 37m 11s

1 TB package (10Gbps) = 16m 13s

However, because most of our customers don’t have connections this fast, this feature will likely only benefit a few clients right away.

But the long-term benefit is that you can rest assured MASV has the power and capability to scale along with your organization, no matter what new hardware or software you insert into your workflow.

Indeed, as technology advances, it’s inevitable that 10Gbps will one day become the standard. That means even if you don’t have this capacity now, you’ll need it eventually. And we’ll be there when you do.

Want to conduct your own speed tests using MASV? Sign up for a free trial and send up to 100GB for free today. Want to learn more about our 10Gbps optimization? Check out our info page.

MASV File Transfer

Get 100 GB to use with the fastest, large file transfer service available today, MASV.