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I run a small website with a few users, low traffic, mostly to share personal mp3 files with a small community.

Depending on their ISP, my users can't always download or stream larger files. By larger I mean larger than 1MB. Essentially the host either stops sending, or the client stops receiving. One of the links along the connection chain simply ends its connection before the transfer completes

Trace-route shows no connection issues. There are no connection issues with short transfers that don't take more than a few seconds. It's these 10 second transfers that just end up ending.

Just doing a straight download with a direct link can yield this error if you have the wrong ISP.

Strangely enough, this is most common with users with ISPs who are essentially independent providers that buy service via a fiber link. Unfortunately these providers aren't very knowledgeable, are unable to do any testing, and insist it's a problem with the host.

I have gotten my host to transfer my site to different servers of their, to the same effect. Nearly identical sites (affiliate sites actually) experience no such issue.

What can I be doing to further troubleshoot this matter? How can I prove that someone is dropping the ball, and identify who that party is? Can I do a 5Mb traceroute?

EDIT

Maybe I can clear up some misconceptions with my question:

  1. The files are not very large. They are simply over 2Mb.
  2. The users do not have "slow" connections, they are at least 5mbps.
  3. This "time out" happens very quickly, in the realm of 5 seconds, so I don't know if it's a timeout or not. The user often gets 1 or 2Mb in this chunk of time.
  4. I have tried streaming with a flash player.
  5. I have tried saving the target. Forcing the download.
  6. I have tried allowing the browser to stream the file.
  7. I have tried different browsers (FF, IE, Chrome).
  8. Users are able to download identical files when on different hosts.
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Are you doing any form of actual streaming or just linking to the mp3 and letting the user decide what to do with it? –  JCL1178 Feb 4 '13 at 18:11
    
Just linking, straight direct links. I've personally tried a user's connection, save target as, etc. It's not a streaming issue. –  Gorchestopher H Feb 4 '13 at 18:55
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1 Answer

It very well may be a problem on both sides but downloading a large file over a slow connection (which is what a straight link is) can result in a timeout from either side. You say above that it's not a streaming issue but you aren't actually streaming anything at this point.

I can think of two things that might help. The first (and most likely best) option is to enable streaming over HTTP via the use of a media player such as the excellent and simple to implement JW Player. This will change the behavior from straight download to chunked stream with buffering. The smaller chunks should ensure a smooth connection all the way through, even for users at lower bandwidth.

The second option involves checking your MIME types to make sure they are optimized to force the media files to download and not to try to play them or stream them without the proper infrastructure. I've found that the simplest way to make this happen is to zip the media files before (or after, via script) upload and link to the zip files. MIME types and browsers are almost always set to force the download of a zip file and this may work better for your users.

Still, I would investigate adding streaming over HTTP first.

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I suppose I should clarify. I do have a flash player to "allow" streaming. These are not what you would consider "very large" files or very slow connections. The connections are "high speed" somewhere in the realm of 5mbps. The files are between 3 and 20mb. They "time out" between 5 and 10 seconds into the download, only having received 2Mb or slightly more. I have "forced" downloads with MIME types, attempted streaming, etc. –  Gorchestopher H Feb 4 '13 at 20:26
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