My Latest Vista Test: Network Throttling

Over the past couple of weeks I have been copying large amounts of data back and forth from my desktop PCs and my ReadyNAS in order to facilitate clearing some local hard disk space and to really, honestly begin scheduled backups.  Today while copying a particularly large file (greater than 2GB if you must know) I found that the transfer rate to the ReadyNAS was a measly 10 MB/s.  I have a gigabit network setup and this represents less than 10% of the available capacity.  Obviously something is up.

I have my full-time, every-day PC running Vista with SP1 and for the most part this is a very stable and good performing platform.  I have thrown a lot of modern hardware at it, including 4GB of DDR2 RAM, two NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards in SLI mode and an AMD Phenom 9950 quad core CPU, so Vista can really go fast.  However, to test out the theory that Vista might be taunting me I fired up one of my spare PCs running Windows XP with SP3.  Sure enough, transferring files to and from the NAS with XP works fine at over 22 MB/s.  Something must really be hosed with Vista, IMHO.

So, off to Google I go in search of answers, and low-and-behold I found this article at ZDNet explaning what I feared: Vista thinks it is smarter than me when it comes to prioritizing what needs to get done on the PC.  Whenever the media sub-system in Vista is active with either audio or video playback the network connection gets crunched down to its lowest level.  No matter what I tweak, disable or alter Vista will not transfer at a respectable speed unless all audio and video sources stop.  This includes playback inside of a browser such as IE7 or Firefox.  I take a deep breath and sigh.

So now I must sit in silence or play music on a separate PC if I want full network capability on my main work machine.  For this fine, new feature I award Windows Vista the “Poo of the Day” award.  I’m sure more of these awards will follow soon enough.  Windows 7 can’t get here soon enough.

Vista is blocking the tubes.