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Someone figured out why PS4 downloads are so slow

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If you own a PlayStation 4, then you're familiar with the snail-speed at which games download when you've purchased it via the PlayStation Store. People have been trying to work around this issue since the console launched four years ago, while Sony hasn't shed any light on the issue. Someone has finally figured out why the wheels are turning so slow, and he has a solution. Kinda.

Juho Snellman a systems programmer at Teclo Networks, explains the issues in a very technical and detailed post on his blog. The short of it - apps running in the background automatically slows down the download speed to a near crawl. Secondly, it isn't easy to figure out which apps are running and then to close it all.

It's also important to know that putting your PlayStation 4 in rest mode may or may not help - depending on your settings. Snellman also notes that Sony's reasoning behind this auto 'crawl speed' for downloads could be to ensure that while users are playing an online game that they still get a decent ping. However, as he mentions, the same thing applies when you're not playing an online game, and you have something like Netflix open and playing a single-player game.

Lastly, it might sound easy to say just close all your background apps when you want to download a game - if the PlayStation 4 didn't make it so difficult to know which apps are running in the background. So, just how slow is slow? According to Snellman's tests, the artificial latency changes caused by the PS4 can range from a download window of 7kB to a 128kB receive window. That means your download speed can take up to 100 times longer than it should. This only happens when you're download games from the PSN. Lastly, he also highlights that running a speedtest during a download gives an inaccurate figure.

"I ran a speedtest at a time when downloads were limited to 7kB receive window. It got a decent receive window of over 400kB; the conclusion is that the artificial receive window limit appears to only apply to PSN downloads," explains Snellman. Regarding simply closing apps he says that "they remain in the background indefinitely until you explicitly close them. And it's gets worse than that. If your PS4 is configured to suspend any running apps when put to rest mode, you can seemingly power on the machine into a clean state, and still have a hidden background app that's causing the OS to limit your PSN download speeds."

So what is the solution? Snellman offers a few tips that helped him get better download speeds. You should give his full explanation a read here, below is his summary of things you have to consideer when trying to improve download speeds via the PSN..

"If any applications are running, the PS4 appears to change the settings for PSN store downloads, artificially restricting their speed. Closing the other applications will remove the limit."

  • Just leaving the other applications running in the background will not help. The exact same limit is applied whether the download progress bar is in the foreground or not.
  • Putting the PS4 into rest mode might or might not help, depending on your system settings.
  • The artificial limit applies only to the PSN store downloads. It does not affect e.g. the built-in speedtest. This is why the speedtest might report much higher speeds than the actual downloads, even though both are delivered from the same CDN servers.
  • Not all applications are equal; most of them will cause the connections to slow down by up to a factor of 5. Some games will cause a difference of about a factor of 100. Some games will start off with the factor of 5, and then migrate to the factor of 100 once you leave the start menu and start playing.
  • The above limits are artificial. In addition to that, actively playing a game can cause game downloads to slow down. This appears to be due to a genuine lack of CPU resources (with the game understandably having top priority).

Have you tried the above guidelines and have you seen an improvement on download speeds via the PlayStation Store. Or perhaps you have other tips you want to share with us.

Source: Juho Snellman's Weblog

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