OS X Updates

Hello All,

I work for a company with around 15 Macintosh computers and a T-1 line and a Cisco ASA router. We have found that when we update more than one OS X computer at the same time, the process is extremely slow. At our old office, we had the same problem with a different router and a separate T-1 connection. One of the owners remarked that updates go faster on his home network with a Linksys router and a DSL connection.

We are trying to troubleshoot why the updates run so slowly. Is there a configuration file we can look at to determine the port and remote host the updates are connecting to? Is there any configuration information or logs that might be of help?

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Who is Participating?
Andrew DuffyTechnical Services CoordinatorCommented:
It might have something to do with the MTU value on your router. As you may know the MTU governs packet sizes, and if the value is too high or too low compared to that of a particular destination server, it can cause communication problems. To test this out, vary the MTU value on the router (default value is 1500 - try between 1400 and 1600) and then try your updates again to see if there's an improvement in performance. Some other services / websites may become unavailable during this process so it's best to do this when it's quiet to avoid downtime.

The only other thing I would consider to cause such a problem (and this is particularly relevant if you've had a similar problem with a different line / equipment) is if Apple has some bandwidth throttling feature on outbound traffic from their updates server. As you may know, this would typically restrict the amount of traffic going to a particular IP, and let's say this figure is 256kb for the sake of illustration. Presuming you use NAT, each of the Macs would appear to the updates server to have the same IP (and usually this would be seen as them being one machine). As that IP can only ever use up to 256kb of bandwidth, the amount each machine can use will decrease as more Macs try to update (2 machines get 128kb each, 4 machines 64k each, etc.)

I don't know if you have a Mac server, but Tiger Server has a Software Update service, which pulls down all the updates locally, allowing clients to update over the LAN. This may be the only way to improve performance in your case.
This doesn't answer your question, but you might find it useful:  http://www.oreillynet.com/mac/blog/2002/07/software_update_brings_command.html

By the way, is there any possibility that virus software is the culprit?
I believe software update just uses port 80, by the way.
Tiger Server works very nicely.  But if you can't use one, you can update one Mac, but use the File menu's "Install and Keep Package".  This will keep the installer packages on your hard drive (opening the window nicely in Finder) so you can just copy them to the other Macs via file sharing or an external drive.  You have to install them one at a time when you get to the other computers.  There is no way to make the software update application install them all automatically.

As an alternate boost, you might just install very large updates this way (like the OS updates) and let the network bring over all the small ones so you don't have to babysit each Mac through all the updates.
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