I discovered a problem with my download speed while trying to recover my un-responsive iPad. Apple’s solution required me attach my iPad to my Mac, and then to download a new iOS image from the Internet, through the Mac and onto the IPad.
Speed should have been no problem with my business class, 20 megabit Internet connection from a well-known provider, right?
So I thought.
When I started the iOS download, the little progress timer immediately registered 23 hours to go. Wow, that is long time to wait, and I needed my iPad for a trip the next morning. I tried a couple of speed tests in parallel, and everything looked normal. The question remained – where was the bottleneck on this iOS download? Was it on Apple’s end or a problem with my provider?
Over the years I have learned that iOS and Windows updates are the bane of many Internet Providers. They are constantly looking at ways to prevent them from gumming up their exchange points. They will try to identify update traffic, either by using the source IP, or if that does not work, they can actually examine the download data to make a determination. In either case, once they have tagged it as an update, they will choose to slow it down to keep their exchange points clear during peak traffic hours.
To thwart their shaping and get my speed back up near 20 megabits as promised, I simply had to hide my intentions. This can be accomplished using any number of consumer grade VPN applications.
I turned on my IPvanish, which automatically encrypts the data and original source of my iOS update. Once up and running with my VPN, my IOS update loaded in 23 minutes. A 60 fold speed increase from my previous attempt.
If you would like to read more, here are a couple of other posts about ISP’s throttling data: