Server bandwidth usage comparison – Ramadhaan case

Alhamdulillaah (all praise is due to Allaah) for the arrival of yet another Ramadhaan! Amongst the points people look forward to in Ramadhaan are the abstaining from our physical desires during the daytime, the togetherness with family & friends, the greater boost in faith manifested in extra worship, and surges in bandwidth usage…

Yes, that’s right. As a host for a large quantity of Islamic audio on Hidayah Online, one of the points of Ramadhaan I always look forward to – or rather, anticipate – is the huge surge in bandwidth usage that accompanies the arrival of Ramadhaan. This due to the fact that the month of Ramadhaan is also the month of Qur’aan – the Qur’aan itself was revealed during the month of Ramadhaan, and all Muslims are encouraged to increase in their recitation and familiarization with the Qur’aan. And, as Hidayah Online is one of the few reliable sites with “high quality” 128 kbit/s MP3s of several Qur’aan reciters, the site has gained somewhat of a reputation as being a first source for many people. Several sites, in fact, link directly to the audio files on the Hidayah Online server, which is not a problem except for the fact that give no notice that their links are hosted on another site. But the goal here is earning good deeds, and not fame, so I don’t make a big deal about.

To put things in perspective, I currently maintain two dedicated servers. On one, the primary usage is through Hidayah Online. On the other, the primary usage is for the website Audio Islam. Alhamdulillaah I was able to secure hosting for this site a little under a year ago, and was able to convert it from ASP to PHP rather quickly. Additionally, anticipating that the demand of Audio Islam’s content would surge, I dropped down the cash for a dedicated server with an unmetered, 20Mbps connection as opposed to the capped 10Mbps connection currently used for Hidayah Online. This is part of a long-standing goal to actually move all download-intensive loads over to the higher-capacity server while freeing the other for portal-style work and text-based content.

One would think that with a high-capacity server with a practically limitless (for our audio) monthly allocation would have had plenty of time to grow and utilize this capacity. Sadly, Hidayah Online, whose content is limited solely to HQ Qur’aan file downloads, vastly outstrips Audio Islam’s, whose content includes both Qur’aan recitations as well as a large library of general Islamic lectures. Here are some visual aids:

Audio Islam

Audio Islam server bandwidth usage

Hidayah Online

Audio Islam server bandwidth usage

Keep in mind that the scales of the two are not the same, so read the charts carefully. The most telling number is obviously the usage throughout this month and antipated usage. However, going beyond that, even the usage patterns are completely differently over the past month. While both has a seemingly steady demand with peaks here and there, the Audio Islam server’s usage us markedly lower, with peaks coming sporadically. Hidayah Online, on the other hand, is almost always pegged at its cap, which is 10Mbps. Additionally, it can be observed that Hidayah Online’s usage has a very defined weekly and even daily cycle.

The real beauty, though, is looking at the summary for the past day for Hidayah Online, we see a gargantuan block of a live-sucking bandwidth surge that roughly councides with the start of Ramadhaan. It is this behavior that I expect to continue for roughly the next month or so. And if you look at my monthly forecast for estimated usage, it will only creep closer and closer to the 1.5TB limit I have until it will almost surely exceed it.

Therefore, the longstanding plan is to actually migrate all of the audio currently hosted on Hidayah Online over to the vastly underutilized Audio Islam server, taking advantage of HTTP redirects to make the effort mostly transparent to most users. This move is planned to be permanent. I’ve already mirrored the Hidayah Online audio over on the Audio Islam server (vice-versa, too, for redundancy), so it’s now just a matter of indexing the audio and making it accessible on both the download & streaming server. So, we’re almost there!

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