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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:12 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:13 pm
Posts: 1071
Hopefully, the extremely slow downloads and Net 6 errors for a "significant minority of unlucky people" has been fixed. There is still more to do but if you have had these kinds of problems, please try again.

I am very sorry that this has taken this long to fix. It took a lot of head pounding, researching, staring at bits and especially, a lot of help from some very tech savvy fans. Like Mac_Fife and friends who kept the ball rolling in the "Are you one of the unlucky ones?".
But a very special thanks to a'moaca' for her unbelievable in-depth analysis of the problem. And cjkelly1 for the nugget that led to the resolution.

So here is what it was:

In layman's terms:
An update to the servers caused a problem. The problem part was told to stop. A better update will be made in the future.

In tech novice terms:
A new feature that was included in a Windows service pack was incompatible with earlier versions of the network card's drivers. The old data center's servers did not have this service pack so that is why we did not see it until the move. So initially, the new feature has been disabled. But the final thing to do is update the network drivers and try re-enabling the feature again.

In geek terms:
Windows 2003 SP2 installed "Scalable Networking Pack" and enabled TCP Offloading. TCP Offloading moves some of the TCP stack down to the network adapter which improves performance on the main CPU, just like video or physics accelerators. However, the network adapter's drivers on the servers were too old and were not ready to fully handle this kind of offloading. This interfered with the way TCP adapted to slow and packet losing connections. So, if you have a fast clean connection you would not see the problem. If you didn't then very slow downloads and loss connections for you.
So, the quick fix was to disable TCP Offloading (in particular TCP Chimney) (BTW, the old data center servers was on SP1, so it was not the moved that caused the problem but the SP2 update on the new machines at the new data center. Heh.)
The long term fix is to update the network adapter's drivers and then re-enable TCP Offloading so that we can get the benefits from that (maybe a few grains of speed).

(I'll report this in the Technical Discussion under "REPOST: Unlucky ones get new luck for slow downloads")


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