Think your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is messing with your connection performance? Now you can find out, with Google's new online http://www.pcworld.com/article/158525/ that will diagnose your network connection. Here's a quick walkthrough on how to make the best of them.
Google's broadband test tools are located at Measurementlab.net. On that page, you'll see an first icon that says "Users: Test Your Internet Connection". Click that, and then you'll be taken to a http://www.measurementlab.net/measurement-lab-tools where there are three tests available, and two more listed as coming soon. However, out of the three available tests, only one of them is fully automated and easy to use.
Glasnost, second on the list, will check whether your ISP is slowing down (like Comcast) or blocking Peer2Peer (P2P) downloads from software such as BitTorrent. P2P apps are commonly used for downloading illegal software and media content like movies and music, but also are used for legal purposes as well, such as distributing large software packages to many users at once.
To use the measurement tool, you will be redirected to the http://broadband.mpi-sws.org/transparency/bttest-mlab.php. You'll need the latest version of Java installed, and you should stop any large downloads that you may have running before you begin the test. If you're on a Mac, a popup message will prompt you to trust the site's Java applet.
When you're ready to start, you can choose whether you want to run a full test (approximately 7 minutes long) or a simple test (4 minutes long). When I tried to test my connection, Glasnost's measurement servers were overloaded and an alternative server was offered, but that was overloaded as well. After a short while I was able to run the test.
In the tests of my connection (my provider is Vodafone At Home, in the UK) all results indicated that BitTorrent traffic is not blocked or throttled. But I'm looking forward to hearing from you in the comments how your ISP performed in Glasnost's diagnostics. More PlayStation 3 News...