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Hands On

In order to isolate and measure traffic generated by Space Monkey, I installed a second router behind my primary router. I used a Buffalo WHR-300HP router loaded with Buffalo’s version of DD-WRT firmware because it has bandwidth tracking capabilities. The Space Monkey and the Windows 8.1 test bed computer were the only two devices connected to the LAN ports on the Buffalo router. I’m happy to report that the Space Monkey had no problems living in a “double NAT” environment. After connecting it to the test router, SM initialized and connected without any intervention on my part.

After installing the client on a Windows 8.1 computer, Space Monkey appeared as drive Z:. I selected a number of folders on the Windows computer that contained music files and dragged the folders onto the Music folder of drive Z. (Windows Explorer showed that the selected directories contained ~ 1GB of data.)

Windows Explorer showing Space Monkey as drive Z:

Windows Explorer showing Space Monkey as drive Z:

Space Monkey also appears in the Windows Notification Area. If you hover over the icon, it will show your connection status - hopefully it will show connected. If you right click on the icon, a menu appears. The composite image below shows (clockwise from the lower left corner) the system tray icon, menu and two of the preferences screens.

Space Monkey system tray icon, menu and preferences
Space Monkey system tray icon, menu and preferences

It appeared that each folder generated its own "import" session while transferring (copying) files to the Space Monkey appliance. The importing process wasn't particularly fast - each group of ~ 1GB of files took approximately 10 minutes (about 1.7 MB/s).

Space Monkey "import" creates a separate import session for each directory

Space Monkey "import" creates a separate import session for each directory

In the course of our testing, Space Monkey improved this import process. I upgraded the Windows client to 0.4.13. You can now right-click on files and folder and select "Import to Space Monkey". Their latest project update on 12/14/2013 explained:

"Using this feature skips the local cache, which means syncing to the device can occur faster and your local free disk space is preserved. However, since syncing to the device happens without the cache via this method, it does usually result in a copy dialog. This feature is available in the latest Windows and OSX clients today."

Skipping the local cache made the files transfer to the Space Monkey device at normal LAN file copy speeds. Clicking on the Space Monkey system tray icon, you could see that the files were syncing in the background, as the file counter kept decrementing. When the Space Monkey system tray menu shows "all files up-to-date", the Space Monkey cloud knows about the files, but they aren't necessarily uploaded yet. The client doesn't really tell you how many files remain to be uploaded to the cloud or provide an estimate of time remaining. Hopefully, that feature will make it into future client upgrades.

Upload to the Space Monkey cloud starts immediately as the files are imported to your Space Monkey device. If you transfer a lot of data, it can take a significant amount of time for your files to be fully synchronized with the cloud. The default upstream bandwidth allocated to the Space Monkey is 300 Kbps, so even a few Gigabytes of data could take a long time. My initial imports to the Space Monkey device totaled about 2.8 GB. After ~ 24 hours, the Space Monkey website showed that about 1.5 GB remained to be synchronized.

The screenshot below shows the My Space Monkey page you can access after logging in. Across the top of the screen, you can upload files or create new folders. It's hard to read, but below the directory listing it says, "You can drag files here to upload them from your computer". In the lower left corner, your device status along with total storage used is shown. The lower right corner will show either the amount of data remaining to be uploaded, or will indicate all files backed up.

My Space Monkey landing page

My Space Monkey landing page

As noted above, Space Monkey defaults to 300 Kbps for upstream bandwidth throttling. In our tests, it appears that the device does respect the 300 Kbps limit. The screenshot below shows both the LAN (top) and the WAN traffic (bottom) with the default settings enabled.

Space Monkey bandwith utilization with default settings

Space Monkey bandwith utilization with default settings

I used to test my internet connection prior to installing Space Monkey, so that I could determine how much bandwidth I could allocate to the device. My internet performance measured 57 Mbps downstream and 11 Mbps upstream. I decided to remove the upstream limits to see how much of my upstream bandwidth Space Monkey would use.

Space Monkey appears to be limited by something other than available upstream bandwidth. With upstream limits removed, the highest upstream utilization that I observed was approximately 1.6 Mbps - nowhere the available 11 Mbps. While at times the upstream was very consistent as shown below, many times the throughput hovered around 200-300 Kbps before suddenly jumping up to what appears to be the maximum of 1.6 Mbps and then later falling back to the 200-300 Kbps range.

Space Monkey bandwidth with upstream limits removed

Space Monkey bandwidth with upstream limits removed
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