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How long does it take to copy a VM over the Internet?

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Most of us who have copied large files over the Internet (or even within the company’s network for that matter) have been surprised by the amount of time it takes. We dont have a mapping in our mind that can relate the network bandwidth in Mbps with the size of the file to be transferred (GB). I found a nifty file transfer time calculator on the Internet and computed the effective transfer rate for several different bandwidth options by subtracting the signal overhead and an average 5% Layer 4 overhead from the rated capacity. The table below shows the expected transfer times for different network bandwidths, your mileage will vary with the Internet/internal network traffic at your site.

Transfer Time

File Size (GB)

1.544 Mbps T1/DS1

2.088 Mbps E1

10 Mbps Thin Ethernet

44.736 Mbps T3/DS3


1h 44m 35s

1h 16m 02s

0h 14m 19s

0h 03m 09s


8h 42m 57s

6h 20m 10s

1h 11m 37s

0h 15m 45s


17h 25m 55s

12h 40m 20s

02h 23m 15s

00h 31m 31s


26h 08m 52s

19h 00m 31s

03h 34m 52s

00h 47m 16s


34h 51m 50s

25h 20m 41s

04h 46m 30s

01h 03m 02s

The timings for T1 correlate very closely with my experience of transferring VM’s between my machine and ec2 when I am the sole user. It takes me over half a day to transfer a 10Gb VM and this is really wearing me down.

The chronic problem is how to reduce the time taken to copy VM’s to a remote datacanter, either one owned by your company or a cloud provider, over your company’s private network or on the Internet. Neitwork bandwidth will always remain a gating issue for most of us who are developers.

Written by paule1s

December 31, 2008 at 3:05 pm

One Response

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  1. […] and sharing VM’s. This is an interesting use case, however, readers should pay heed to the transfer times as image sizes […]

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