ftp to dev null to test bandwidth

When testing bandwidth, and troubleshooting bottlenecks, I prefer to use iperf. If you insist on testing bandwidth with FTP, it’s important NOT to use regular files. If you transfer actual files, the transfer could be limited by disk i/o, due to reads and writes. To eliminate this you can FTP from /dev/zero to /dev/null. It sounds super easy, but you have to use FTP in a special way to get it to read and write to special devices.

Here’s a little script. Be sure to replace the destination IP address, username and password with actual values:

# cat ftp_dev_null.sh
/usr/bin/ftp -n <IP address of machine> <<END
verbose on
user <usernanme> <password>
put "|dd if=/dev/zero bs=32k" /dev/null
# ftp_dev_null.sh
Verbose mode on.
331 Password required for fordodone
230 User fordodone logged in
Remote system type is UNIX.
Using binary mode to transfer files.
200 Type set to I
local: |dd if=/dev/zero bs=32k remote: /dev/null
200 PORT command successful
150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for /dev/null
send aborted
waiting for remote to finish abort
129188+0 records in
129187+0 records out
4233199616 bytes (4.2 GB) copied, 145.851 s, 29.0 MB/s
226 Transfer complete
4233142272 bytes sent in 145.82 secs (28350.0 kB/s)
221 Goodbye.

In this case I was getting around 230Mbits per second (over an IPSec tunnel) between my client and the FTP server. Not too bad.


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