OTS Policies

Rate Limiting and File Sharing

Starting January 29, 2003 Towson University is implementing rate limiting for peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing on the university network. Rate limiting is used to maintain fairness in Internet bandwidth allocation to ensure the effective management of limited network bandwidth. As a result, resident students will experience a more stable and consistent connection speed.

In this case, rate limiting is used to limit the amount of "bandwidth" (see below for an explanation) available for P2P file sharing programs. By limiting that amount, more bandwidth is available for other network applications, such as e-mail, Web browsing and publishing, and audio/video streaming.


What is “bandwidth” and why is it important?

Bandwidth refers to the amount of data volume that can flow up and down the network. Most network users utilize very little bandwidth as they browse the Web, send e-mail and download an occasional file. When bandwidth is used up, network performance degrades rapidly.

What is peer-to-peer (P2P) software?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software is typically used to share large music, video and movie files between computers. Some examples include Kazaa, Morpheus, Bearshare, Gnotella, Gnapster and Mactella.

How does P2P use impact me?

  • P2P file sharing technology has made it easier than ever before for individuals to make and share a large number of unauthorized copies of creative works, particularly music and movies, without regard to or consideration of the rights of the copyright owners. See the following Chronicle of Higher Education article:
  • P2P software can easily consume all available network bandwidth. The reduced network capacity can significantly impact the ability of students, faculty and staff to conduct their academic, research and administrative pursuits on the university's networks. See the following CNN article:
  • Can files be distributed legally (in particular with respect to copyright)? Towson University's Responsible Computing Guidelines recognize that the same standards of intellectual and academic freedom developed for faculty and student publications in traditional media are applicable to publications in computer media.

Helpful Tips on P2P Use

Towson University recommends that you carefully supervise file sharing on a P2P program. To do so, please take the following steps:

  • You should move all files you have out of the "shared folder" that a P2P program uses to share. When you install a P2P program on your computer, you specify which folder to use for downloading and sharing files. Never choose your main C:\ root folder. A P2P program will share any file in that folder with other P2P program users, but not files in other folders.
  • Do not use the "shared folder" for storing files unless you are specifically planning to serve them. While you are using a P2P program, it shows whether you have files available for sharing and whether files are being "shared" (sent out from your computer).
  • When you leave a P2P program, make certain to exit and close the server. You should go to the "File" menu and click "Exit" when you leave a P2P program. Also, any time you see a P2P program server icon in your system tray (usually in the lower right corner of the screen) right click on it and click "Exit" to close the server.

For further information, feel free to contact the OTS Help Center at 410-704-5151 or




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