Circuit Usage Graph Guide

This guide should help Technical Contacts become familiar with reading the MSLN Circuit Usage graphs, including how to access them, what a healthy graph looks like, and how to spot signs of trouble.

Index

  1. How to Access the Graphs
  2. Finding Your Site's Graphs
  3. How to Read the Graphs
  4. Diagnosing Problems

How to Access the Graphs

Graphs URI

The URI to the Circuit Usage Graphs is: https://nm.maine.edu/graphs/.

Note: You must log in with your Network Management account to view the graphs page.

Logging In

In order to view the graphs page, you must first enter your Network Management username and password. If you have forgotten your Network Management username or password contact MSLN for assistance at
1-888-FOR-MSLN (Toll Free).

NM login box


Finding Your Site's Graphs

Searching

Upon logging in, you will be presented with a very long page similar to the one in the image below. This is the list containing links to all graph pages, so you'll have to navigate down to your own graph link(s).

The best way to find your graph link is to hit ctrl+f on your keyboard (⌘+f on Apple computers) and type the first few letters of your school or library in the search/find box. The search/find box appears at the bottom of the page in Firefox, and appears at the top of the page in Internet Explorer and Safari.

For an example, we've typed Caribou Pub in our Firefox find box, and it has brought us down to the links to the Caribou Public Library's graphs pages. See the next section to find out why there are two links.

Graphs list

Multiple Graph Links (2 T1 sites)

If your site has two circuits (two T1 lines), as does the Caribou Public Library, you will see two links, one right below the other. There is 1 page generated for each circuit, and hence if your site has two circuits, you will have two links. In order to properly assess your traffic, you will need to look at both pages. In a tabbed browser, you can just open each page in a new tab to quickly switch between them.


How to Read the Graphs

How the Graphs are Built

Each of these graphs shows the usage of your circuit based on taking snapshots (or data points) for a given interval and graphing them. For example, the Daily graph says "(5 Minute Average)". This means every 5 minutes the circuit's usage rate is checked and plotted on the graph. This also means that the graph doesn't show you how much traffic is going in/out of your circuit at this moment, but rather the average of how much data has gone in/out of the circuit in the last 5 minutes. In our example graph below, at 1pm the average was about 1.2Mbps of dowload (blue line) and about 0.2Mbps of upload (green line).

Daily graph example

Incoming vs. Outgoing traffic

The most confusing point about these graphs is that they are labeled from MSLN's POV, not yours. This means whevever it says "Incoming" it really means "traffic coming into msln's servers", hence you should read it as "Outgoing from my circuit to MSLN". To put it more simply, "Incoming" (the green line) is your site's "upload" traffic, and "Outgoing" (the blue line) is your site's "download" traffic.

Max Speed

If you have a T1 line then your max speed is is 1.544 Mbps. Your blue/green graph-lines will never go above this horizontal line.

If you have a different circuit, like a T3, your max speed in Mbps is determined by the following:

  1. Take the "Max Speed" shown near the top of the page (listed in kiloBytes per second).
  2. Multiply it by 8 to get kilobits per second (8 bits = 1 Byte).
  3. Divide that by 1000 to get Megabits per second.

Max Speed example

Note: Uppercase B means Bytes, and lowercase b means bits.

If your blue or green lines hit this point on the Y-axis, you're hitting your max speed with either downloading or uploading traffic. However, this does not mean there is trouble. Healthy circuits commonly have "spikes" up to the max speed a few times a day, like the graph above at the 1pm mark. To find out if your graph indicates trouble, see the Diagnosing Problems section below.

Note that the graphs are built dynamically. If you use less than your max speed for a given graph, it will only show up to that amount. For example, if you use only 0.5 Mbps for the day, your Y-axis scale will only show up to 0.5 Mbps or slightly higher.

Diagnosing Problems

Subindex:

  1. Which Graph to Look At
  2. Diagnosing Slowness
  3. Slowness due to Malware/P2P
  4. Time for an Upgrade?

Which Graph to Look At

Each graph page has 4 separate graph images: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly. Depending on what you're trying to assess, you will want to look at either one particular graph, or a combination of graphs.

NM screen

For example, if your circuit seems slow today, you will want to look at the daily graph and probably the weekly graph as well. On the other hand, if you want to know whether you're maxing out your circuit on a regular basis, and therefore may require an additional circuit, you will need to look at the Monthly and Yearly graphs. Read on for more detailed information.

What A Healthy Graph Looks Like

Below you'll find images of what healthy T1 and T3 graphs should look like. These are useful for comparison with the "unhealthy" graphs in subsequent sections.

Here are a few key points to note:

  1. There are a couple of peaks or spikes each day, but nothing at the max speed lasting more than an hour.
  2. The green line (upload) is a fraction of the height of the blue line (download).
  3. The blue download line is not staying at one constant rate, but instead has many peaks and valleys.
  4. There is minimal traffic overnight.
  5. Each day on the weekly graph (excluding weekends) looks normal. i.e. the green is always less than the blue/pink, and nothing is "pegged" at one level for the whole day.

Healthy T1 Graphs

NM screen

Healthy T3 Graphs

NM screen

Diagnosing Slowness

As stated in the previous section, if your circuit seems slow today, you will want to look at the daily graph to find out whether you're maxing out your circuit. If you have a T1 and have many blue spikes hitting the 1.54 mark on the Y-axis, you are maxing out your T1, which can result in a slow connection or in web pages timing out.

If today is the first time you've noticed such slowness, look at the weekly graph and see if the last few days also roughly hit the 1.54 mark. Keep in mind they'll be compressed when compared to the daily graph so there will be fewer spikes per day. If on a normal day you never go over 1Mbps but today you are hitting 1.54Mbps then you know some computer or computers on your network are using an unusually high amount of bandwidth. However of the graphs from the last week look the same as your daily graph, you may need to look into limiting certain types of traffic on your network.

The following image is a T1 graph that is maxed out on both the Daily and most of the Weekly graphs. We would say this site needs more bandwidth or to limit certain types of traffic if no upgrades are available.

Maxed Out T1

Maxed-out T1 graph

Please note that if your site has 2 T1 lines, you will have to check both graphs. Only if both graphs are maxed out should you be concerned about slowness. Often one graph will show mostly download and the other show mostly upload, due to the way the router splits the traffic up.

Time for an Upgrade?

MSLN Circuit upgrades happen during early summer, and once they have begun, you cannot request more bandwidth until the following year. Upgrades are not guaranteed by request, but are based on many factors, one of the biggest being whether you consistantly max out your existing connection. A good way to check for this is to look at the Monthly and Yearly graphs. If you have only one T1, and have many blue spikes around the 1.5 Mbps mark, you may need a second T1.

Slowness due to Malware/P2P

A very easy way to tell if you are having slowness due to malware or P2P file uploading is to check whether your Daily or Weekly graph has a green line that is higher than your blue line, and is plateaued at about the 1.5 Mbps mark. This happens when a computer or series of computers are uploading much more than they are downloading, something that almost never happens during regular internet usage. In the case of P2P abuse, your green line may also be lower than the blue, but only slightly so. An example looks like this:

T1 with P2P abuse

P2P abuse T1 graph

T3 P2P abuse graphs are similar but aren't pegged at the maximum:

T3 with P2P abuse

P2P abuse T3 graph

There are 2 important exceptions ot this rule however. One is if your site is doing off-site backups or synchronizing data between servers, which is usually done overnight. The other exception is if you have two T1s and one of them shows almost all download and no upload, while the other shows almost all upload and no download. This situation just means the router is splitting upload and download between your two T1s. Both these situations are normal and can be disregarded.

This is an offsite backup graph. Notice how it happens about the same time every day.

T1 with Offsite Backup

Offsite Backup T1 graph

If you are unsure about what you see, or want clarification, please contact MSLN Support.

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