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tomeworm

VPN speed testing

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I'm a PIA VPN customer and a member of their forums. We've had an ongoing forum debate with a particular member there who has repeatedly claimed in multiple threads that "speedtest.net is useless for vpn testing." He's since expanded that statement to: "Oh, and speedof.me and testmy.net are no better, no speed test sites gives a usable valid connection speed result on VPN, no matter what they use."

 

He argues the only way that you can speed test while on a vpn is:

Quote

A useful test needs to be initiated from your end - speed test sites always initiate the actual test from their end.

 

To test on VPN you need file downloads at (minimum) 1GB in size to begin, steps.


Among other things he's claimed: "the speed test sites can't test back to your system while behind the VPN... If one is using a VPN service which does not stop a speed test site from discovering the path back to your actual 'system' through their VPN network then the VPN service being used is not secure. Anyone that tells you a speed test site is accurate on their VPN service is either lying to you (either purposely or out of ignorance) or the VPN service they are using is not secure and they do not know it because its impossible for speed site results to be accurate if the VPN service network is secure because it should not be able to discover the path back to your system on a secure VPN."

When pushed further on the matter he stated: "...the pings stop when using speedtest sites on VPN, those pings need to be able to get to the users computer to test path latency and on VPN they can't."


Perhaps lrryie is correct about PIA blocking pings back to the user's computer (or maybe not). But even if PIA does block pings (and I have to question that because I have no trouble using Network Utility on my Mac pinging anything I want while on the vpn), is he correct that online speed testing services, like testmy.net cannot provide any sort of reasonable speed test when on a vpn?

He argues that the one and only way to test for speed on a vpn is by uploading and downloading large files and timing with a stopwatch. I don't think most people are willing to be bothered with the inconvenience of that. I use online speed testing services like testmy.net because it's convenient. Maybe it's not as precise as what lrryie demands has to be done, but in my view it's plenty good enough. But he says it's "useless" for vpn speed testing. Is he correct? If not I would welcome any network experts here to openly challenge him in those PIA forum threads. But at the very least I'd appreciate some feedback here.

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16 hours ago, tomeworm said:

He argues that the one and only way to test for speed on a vpn is by uploading and downloading large files and timing with a stopwatch. I don't think most people are willing to be bothered with the inconvenience of that. I use online speed testing services like testmy.net because it's convenient. Maybe it's not as precise as what lrryie demands has to be done, but in my view it's plenty good enough. But he says it's "useless" for vpn speed testing. Is he correct? If not I would welcome any network experts here to openly challenge him in those PIA forum threads. But at the very least I'd appreciate some feedback here.

I do know TestMy performs a stopwatch-like timing for the download test.  When the download starts, it loads a webpage of the requested block size filled with random data in comment tags, just like downloading a bulky file.  It records the start time and records the end time the moment the webpage finishes loading.  It then calculates the speed based on this time difference, just like downloading a large file timed with a stopwatch.  I'm not sure about the upload test, but imagine it does something similar, i.e. obtains a block of the requested size, records the start time, uploads the block, records the finish time and then calculates the upload speed based on the time it took to upload the specified block size. 

 

I'm sure CA3LE would be able to explain better. ;)  I just know it's not a complicated process like the weird methodology used by Ookla's Speedtest.

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When you test a VPN service here you're still accurately testing your speed.  Regardless of the method the data uses to get to you the principals for measuring the speed are the same.

 

The basics.  The test starts, a timer starts, data flows... when the data is done the timer stops.  If if takes longer to send or receive the information it's reflected in the result.  

 

Keep in mind your speed with any VPN is going to be degraded.  You're adding a middle man.  The connection has to first route through them before it gets to you and then there's often encryption involved.  For comparison, my best VPN tests only gave me about 60 Mbps out of a 150 Mbps connection.  The information is being relayed back to you, it's to be expected.

 

The time it takes to load speed tests at TMN directly correlates with the time you'd expect to see if you were downloading or uploading a large file.  I might not be able to trace back to your IP but the principals for testing are the same.

 

 

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a-b-c-d-e

 

If the test originated from 'e', in other words, the computer, and the test server was 'a' that is where the data is going to end up 'e', bounced back or not.

 

Now correct me if I'm wrong, were not talking about a ping, were looking at data.

 

If the data was measured at the VPN endpoint, or exit node, that would most likely, in the PIA case, leave a massive pipe, and feature the highest throughput possible at the time, between the endpoint and the testing node. Which would output some very impressive 'speeds'.

 

Again correct me if I'm wrong, thought the path between the originating node (computer) and the test (server) stays available through nodes a-b-c-d- and e, the path obfuscates the originating point, to a point. If not, explain how it would even be possible to get a less than stellar 100GB+++ result ? (Gigabit)

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Don't look to me as someone who knows what they are talking about, but I can tell you this.  You can get a speed test through a VPN.  I have done it multiple times.  And, I can assure you, the server is secure.  I think it just has to do with what traffic is allowed through the VPN.  For example, some sites I cannot go to but others I can.  Also, some speed test sites don't work because they use java or flash which apparently aren't allowed on out VPN.

 

Don't know if it helps or not but that's my 2 cents.

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