Slow downloads

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    Ashli Baldwin

    Hi all,

    Echoing what Andrew said, we were able to speed up map downloads a considerable amount in Gaia GPS version 1.2 and above on iOS, and speeds are up to 10x faster than previous versions.

    If anybody else is experiencing any map download issues, I'd encourage you to message support@gaiagps.com directly - we're quite responsive and happy to help!

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    Nathan

    Can you tell me the name of the map source you are trying to download? Also, do you happen to know your app version number? You can find it under Settings > Help on iPhone or at the top of Settings on Android.

    Map download speeds can vary pretty wildly. A lot of the maps available in Gaia GPS are from third party providers. For non-proprietary map sources like these, the server has to make the tiles on each request if they aren't cached. Additionally, most servers cache popular areas, and render the rest of the area on demand, which takes longer.

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    chopchopturtleboy

    I also experience slow map downloads (KB/s, not MB/s, both old Gaia app and new Gaia app, on different wifi networks) from the majority of map sources, including the ones from Gaia servers: Gaia Topo, US Topo, River Charts, Contour Overlay, Public Lands, USGS Geology, and Hunting Overlays.

    I know Gaia can't control third party providers, but I'd love to see Gaia work on a better (faster) map download infrastructure, or at least more clearly tell users in the app what layers come from Gaia so they can help decide what map source may be faster to download.

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    thejaxon

    I was downloading the Gaia topo. Version 1.1.1

    Sorry for the delay, I was putting on about 4,929 miles to test if Gaia worked in the Arctic Circle. FYI, yes.

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    GlamperSexuals

    I'm downloading large areas of the Gaia Topo (feet) layer for a 1,500 mile trek we are about to start. I understand this will take about 20-30 gig on my device, and that is acceptable.

    It is currently loading one area at a time (15 more to go) at a rate of about 50 KB/s. (All other services on the device are running at normal data speeds).

    It seems at that rate, I could go draw the route on paper by exploring it firsthand - is there a way to speed this up?

    Thanks so much!

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    Nathan

    Thanks everyone for the feedback.

    I typically find Gaia Topo to be a faster download. It is mobile optimized and takes up less space on your device.

    My best tip for now is to leave the app open while your map downloads complete. They will get paused if you navigate away from the app.

    Regarding what we could do to improve:

    • For sources that we serve ourselves, you'll eventually see some improvement as we move more of our servers to “http2.” You can experience slow speeds because there is some overhead per file, and map downloads are comprised of sometimes millions of tiny files. Http2 has less overhead per file, so this improves the speed. I don't have an ETA on this transition, but it's progressing.
    • For sources that we don't serve ourselves, it's largely out of our control.

    I'll also note that slow speeds are often just due to networking problems that are also not in our control, and I think people often conflate this with a bug in the app.

    Overall, we use a pretty standard model for serving and consuming maps, and you'd likely experience the same speeds in just about any app, unless they had special machinery to serve up larger blobs of data, instead of many little files, which isn't common.

    I'll comment on this thread if I have any updates, and you'll get an email notification if you are following the post.

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    thejaxon


    Just to be clear, I have downloaded maps to my TopoCanada app, my MotionX app, my Hema explorer app, my Navionics app, my Garmin apps and my Humminbird chart plotter so I don't think that my experience shows downloads this slow to be "the same speed" as you claim. I don't want you to think I am criticizing the app, I like it better than the ones I have mentioned (and a few others) and I use it almost exclusively, I just wish the downloads were faster.

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    arstegmeier

    IMHO, this download issue is unacceptable for the following reasons:

    • for those of us who purchased the app and the subscription for offline use, if the app was to function perfectly (no such thing as perfect) these speeds may be acceptable.
    • I have covered 500 miles in one day of driving through the Cascade mountains including several stops on unmarked side roads; so I need all of the mountain range on my device. Currently, I have been "downloading" portions of the mountain range as directed in videos and discussions, for more than 16 straight hours and haven't sufficiently covered ⅛ of the cascade mountains. These downloads aren't transferable to other devices. IF there is and incoming call, the download stops and I was unable to confirm if the download restarted accurately. I simply can't go offline into the wilderness and trust this app to perform when I need it.
    • You compared your product to return on investment with Garmin as over a decade. I would argue that my time to "download" your maps to satisfy my needs; I might well be invested in 160+ hours of time "downloading" with my device being unavailable during this time. That is completely unacceptable. What then happens if my phone breaks? Does this all starts over again?
    • The only scenario where this app is acceptable is if we can truly download the maps like the Garmin, and have them available at my discretion; not some neanderthal technique of cacheing ones needed maps. This is making a $500 Garmin look like a bargain. Or if you can guarantee us that after countless hours of efforts these file are transferable between devices.
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    Ashli Baldwin

    @arstegmeier I'm sorry that you are not satisfied with the app. Please email support@gaiagps.com for a full refund at any time.

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    arstegmeier

    Thank you for your refund offer. It seems like a very nice app while online so very disappointed about off grid functionality because of how it worked online.

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    JohnBlown

    I was googling slow download speeds regarding my Gaia app and found this thread. I am trying to download maps as well and the speed of the download makes it unusable. This seems to be a newer issue - as I have used the App before on another phone and was able to download map sections faster. I have a new phone and need to download the maps again. The download speed right now is just ridiculous. As for the offer to just refund the purchase price and not fix the problem that is a terrible response. It seems like Gaia is not recognizing that you guys do in fact have an issue and people will stop using the app, they will leave bad reviews, and no one will buy it, and you will be looking for a new customer service job. Just refunding people for an issue is a terrible customer service policy. You should fix the issue and allow your loyal customers to properly use your app. In the mean time, I am going to use OSM Maps and other mapping software that is way faster until Gaia can hopefully come up with a solution. 

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    ckracht

    Gaia cares. Some downloads speeds are out of Gaia's control. For those willing to work with tech support Gaia will help troubleshoot. There is not a single person at Gaia that does not care about customer service or poor app performance. Refunds are for folks who have decided to no longer use the app. Lots of other software companies offer no refunds.

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    thejaxon

    Louder are you a Gaia employee? Thanks for pointing out how refunds work and that Gaia cares about us. I am not sure how I am supposed to work with Tech support but as far as your statement that some download speeds are out of their control, wouldn't it stand to reason that a map called Gaia Topo might be in their control? What am I looking for from tech support? I have posted enough map data that I have downloaded to show that it is not a problem with my hardware. Does Gaia expect me to optimize their system, is that what working with tech support means.

    Good to know that some companies don't offer refunds. I am sure that this is info that we were unaware of. 

    I started this thread a month ago and haven't seen any improvement so don't try to be a fan boy for something that the users are unhappy with because it just angers the masses more. 

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    JohnBlown

    Just tested my download speed on my iPhone 7 and current Wifi connection and it is sitting at 42mbps. I am downloading a map on Gaia and the speed seems to be up right now to about 200kb/s from much lower speeds. So if my map is 1.7 GB then I figure its going to take me about 2.5 hours to download? Is my math correct on that one? So that is just one of the many maps I need to download. They are standard Gaia maps. I also can't use my phone for anything else while downloading. Seems a little frustrating. Oh I spoke too soon download speed has dropped back to 100KB/s and sometimes lower.

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    Andrew

    Hi Folks,

    I want to add a few comments here, and I'm one of the company founders.

    1) Regarding download speed, I think there's possibly an issue with how speed is being estimated in the new app. I'll look into that and post back on the forum. I tested a 1.7 GB map download, and like @JohnBlown said, I was seeing speeds reported from 200-300 KB/S. But in reality, the map finished much faster, and the download must have been proceeding faster.

    Did anyone else who reported download issues think this might be the case? @thejaxon @chopchopturtleboy @GlamperSexuals

    2) If anyone who is still having issues beyond the speed calculation, and is willing to help test, it'd be great if you could do any of these and report results. You can post back to this thread, or email support@gaiagps.com

    * try and download a large section of Gaia Topo - does it end up finishing faster than the reported speed would imply?
    * try and download a map source in Gaia GPS, and in a similar app that also has that source - any different? what apps did you compare?
    * try and download a map in new Gaia GPS and Gaia GPS Classic - any different? (don't compare Gaia Topo or MapBox sources for this test, since the data/vectorization is different)
    * if you think any particular map source is particularly slow compared to others, which is it?

    3) Please note also that the size of the map shown on the Saved tab will initially be estimated and marked with (est). Once the download completes, the size of the map will be accurately reported, and might be much smaller than originally stated. My map shrunk from 1.7 GB to 550 MB, and flat areas will be much smaller than hilly areas, because most of the data in the map is the contour lines. I also want to look into if there's anything we can do to improve that estimate.

    4) If anyone in this group is interested, to explain further how the infrastructure for downloads works, we cache the "tiles" statically on Amazon S3 and use Fastly as our Content Distribution Network (CDN), to replicate raster tiles globally for fast downloads.

    With two exceptions, we think that's about as good as you can do to serve up tiles fast. One exception is that because the downloads are set up as many small tiles, this downloads slower than it would if the download were one large file or just a few large files. A few apps work that way, and could get marginally faster download speeds than Gaia GPS. The other exception is the vector tiles aren't being cached in a CDN, and this would likely improve download speeds for international users for this source.

    Relatedly, per Nathan's comment above, http2 adoption will speed up our map downloads, and that's largely because http2 batches up multiple requests, and so you get this performance gain from having fewer files to send. We're working on that for our servers, and other servers may switch to it over time - but I don't think this is going to be a huge improvement.

    5) I do remain skeptical that the software has some major problem that is slowing downloads - I think people often conflate local or temporary networking issues with software problems, and it seems to work well and swiftly for most people. But I'd definitely work to improve download speeds if I thought there was something we could do.

    6) Finally, I'll note that 1Louder is an employee, as of a couple of weeks ago - he was previously a long-time user. His response is off the mark here, and we'll work together better as a team to post accurate information, and embrace criticism that comes too.

    Regards,
    Andrew Johnson
    Founder, Gaia GPS

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    JohnBlown

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for your comment - definitely all makes sense! I will try to download again and see how the speed goes here. Seems to be tracking in at about 220kb/s again. 

    The reason the download speed seemed odd to me is that I have downloaded Gaia maps about 6 months ago and it seemed to go a lot faster. Nothing has changed except I got an iPhone 7. My wifi etc. that I use is still the same - so I tested it on different networks, and via LTE but still slow. So just seemed odd that 6 months ago it was fine and now it seems slow. I also work in software and on the web, so I know how it goes about locating the reason for glitches or changes in speeds etc. Maybe it's because we are Canada....too far for the data to travel. ;-)

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    thejaxon

    Thanks for the reply Andrew. I was downloading about 17 maps (max size) along the Dempster Highway and even after leaving it running all night I found that I didn't have all of them downloaded. I have no idea how much data that is but I do know that I was on dial up the last time I saw speeds reported that slow. As I said before, I love the app and it is on my first page on the iPad. 

    I haven't been out of cell service since my trip so I haven't downloaded maps since.

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    thejaxon

    Maybe, like JB says, it is a Canadian thing. Lol

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    JohnBlown

    I am downloading Vancouver/Squamish area. Looks like we are all downloading maps in a similar area.

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    k.kavanagh

    The area I was trying to DL was in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. It never did complete, but I found a sort of work around.

    DL speeds were anywhere from 30k-200k across 4 different devices and 3 different networks so I think we can rule out network and device issues (I also work in IT and understand the frustration of troubleshooting connectivity and speeds).
    I was using the Gaia Topo (feet) layer as it was the most consistently available across the wide area I needed offline.

    The workaround:
    This is time consuming, but worked during the times we actually had signal on our 2700 mile trip (roughly 70% of our time was without signal across 13 days). When signal was available I would pan and scan at different zoom levels along our planned route. This would cache most of the tiles we needed. Again, manually time consuming, and did not net us all the detail we needed, but worked in a pinch. I would scan partially off-route to try and pickup nearby areas in case we needed to find alternate routes due to impassable trails, but there were times we were simply driving off the grid because I didn't have time to scan an area at the zoom level I needed.
    One caveat to the 'on signal pan and scan' solution is that Gaia would drop massive amounts of map I had previously cached if we came into signal range. Like the app decided there must be updated tiles available since we had signal, so it dropped the entire area at all zoom levels and I'd be looking at a grey screen with only our recorded tracks. If signal was weak (as it usually was during these greyouts) it took forever to get even a piece of the map back. I'm not sure the inner workings of the app and how it renders, or if there's a place I can increase my cache size, but that was very frustrating - to see maps I had moments ago disappear. Perhaps there's a way to keep the maps from trying to update, or to leave the tiles available or something.
    I'm happy to work more directly with tech support and provide logs or something if that will help. I have about 6 other nav apps, but have invested about 8 years in Gaia so I'm familiar with the layout and functionality. Please keep working to improve it!
    Thanks!

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    Andrew

    Couple more notes:

    1) After looking into the download speed issue, we did find an issue with how the speed is being reported. That's fixed for v1.2, which we're posting today and should be live within a couple days. The issue was we were reporting download speed in kilobytes per second, but people expect to see kilobits/megabits per second for bandwidth. Speeds will appear about 10X faster in 1.2.

    This version also has a really neat "shared folder" feature where you can share folders with friends via the app, and sync updates between you.

    2) @k.kavanagh - I tried to look up your account, but ti doesn't show the maps you are talking about, and it looks like you might be on the Classic app. If you are still having trouble with map downloads, please do "Send Logs" from Settings in the app, and note it's in relation to this thread.

    3) @thejaxon - If you had 17 map downloads going at max size, that could have been dozens of gigabytes. That could take more than a night to download, even on a reasonable network. You could also do Send Logs from the app, and reference this thread, and we could check out your account if you think something is otherwise amiss. I also tried to look up "thejaxon" but I don't think I found you.

     

     

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    GlamperSexuals

    Hi Andrew, thank you for your involvement in this thread.

    I do have two accounts, and it looks like I was in the wrong one (I had been testing how to share maps across a team of people, which it looks like you've now worked on - great!)

    It probably doesn't help that I had created a goofy name for the team, GlamperSexuals, as a joke in testing. :D

    I do still have the classic app, as I was hesitant to update it shortly before such a long trek where my wife and I would be solo and sporadically connected to data for 13 days and almost 3k miles - minimize variables, minimize risk.

    My two accounts are currently with the following usernames: kevink and k.kavanagh - I need to look through them and find the one with the most activity and consolidate into that one alone.

    I will send logs from the recent trip if it's helpful, but I'm guessing that being on the classic app, it's a but of a moot point.

     

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    Andrew

    Hi Again Folks,

    I wanted to let you know that we improved the "download speed" in v1.2.1, which we just pushed live to the App Store. You should get the update in the next hour or two, if not already.

    In v1.2.1, Gaia Topo should download about 5X faster, and all other sources download a bit faster too. This is in addition to the tweak we made to improving how the download speed displays in v1.2, which I mentioned in my previous comment.

    Couple of technical notes if you are interested:

    1) My colleague Anna investigated and found the issue was that while downloads were going fast, there was a bottleneck in saving tiles to disk. We were getting more throughput over the wire than we were to disk, because of how we were using a database. That's why I put "download speed" in quotes, and also why it was hard for us to recognize the issue - it appeared as a download speed issue in practice, but the problem was elsewhere in the code.

    Anna was able to optimize that a great deal, and now downloads will go much faster.

    2) This affects Gaia Topo the most, because the "tiles" for Gaia Topo are much smaller than other sources, and the issue happens the most with tons of small files, as opposed to fewer larger ones. Each Gaia Topo tile is actually composed of two tiles as well, so that affected it too.

    3) I think you'll find this much improved all around, but FYI, we could improve it a bit further with a larger change. We're not prioritizing that right now, but we're tracking it, and we also opened an issue with the open source project we use where this issue resides. It's possible they will make the infrastructural changes we recommend, and spare us the trouble of modifying the library further. 

    So, thanks for all of your input on this, and I hope you all find the downloads much faster in 1.2.1. 

    Regards,
    Andrew Johnson
    Founder, Gaia GPS

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    thejaxon

    Thanks  Andrew, that made a huge difference. Sorry but I missed your post about the size of my download. I left it running all night then and it still didn't load all of the maps I had  selected. 

    But that is irrelevant now because the last two maps I just downloaded were very quick. Thank you for putting up with the complaints and making your app run a lot better. It is still my favourite. 

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    farmersride

    I would like to echo some of the sentiments of other GAIA users on this thread.  Downloads progress steadily but it would be nice if they were faster.  Maybe you could offer a premium download service that users could pay for that would use GAIA servers to archive all the desired tiles so you could download 'one large blob' ? this might be faster?  

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    Ashli Baldwin

    Hi @farmersride,

    I noticed you are using Gaia GPS on Android. 

    We made many recent speed improvements for iOS, but do need to make the same updates on Android.

    It's definitely on our radar, and I appreciate your input and patience!

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    jvkintheusa

    Following, since downloading maps on my Samsung Galaxy Tab is basically useless.  I realize the app is new compared to some of the more season applications like Earthmate and Viewranger, but using the app off-line is a must for most of us here.

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    Andrew

    @jvkintheusa If you are still having trouble on your Tab, can you please do this:

     

    1) Send Logs, from Settings->Other in the app.

    2) Mention in the email you are having download speed issues, and we'll investigate the logs.

     

    Regards,

    Andrew Johnson

    CEO, Gaia GPS

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    mwagner7

    Picked up a Galaxy S2 the other day and download speeds are extremely slow for me as well. Haven't had an opportunity to test on another network yet but I left it downloading all night and it downloaded one map. My network isn't the fastest but I would think it could download more than 700mb in 12 hours especially during the night when nothing else is running.

    Would be nice if you guys offered micro SD cards with maps for full areas predownloaded for those of us with android devices (similar to how Garmin and other GPS units work). I'd happily buy maps that way to save the time downloading.

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