Test the speed of mobile websites with the Network Link Conditioner

You are developing mobile websites and want to know how the speed and page load feels to the user?

You are developing mobile websites and want to know how the speed and page load feels to the user - and as realistically as possible? If you still have a Mac, then you're in luck, because you can easily throttle the throughput of your network with the Apple Network Link Conditioner. You can then test how fast or slow the website would open for the user under, say, Edge.

Websites should be as fast as possible

You probably know this situation: you switch on the television and want to relax in front of the set. Just the short waiting time until the picture finally appears bothers you unpleasantly. It's only three or four seconds, but the waiting time is annoying.

It's no different on the web, every site should load as fast as possible. People hate delays, so it's a blessing that you have access to DSL with 6Mbit or faster bandwidth at your home computer. Yes, that is really very pleasant, but unfortunately somewhat counterproductive for the development of mobile websites. You would like to test whether the website can also be loaded appropriately fast for the user who is not in the home WLAN with his mobile device, but on the road in a bus, with a slow mobile network. This used to be a problem, but with the appropriate equipment you can test your websites on your home computer as if you were sitting next to your user on the bus.

Do you have a Mac? Then it will be easy!

What you need to throttle the speed is Apple's Network Link Conditioner. This software is a component of the Developer Tools. However, it is not delivered with these tools by default, but must be installed afterwards.

Developer Tools? Xcode?

Xcode is a component of the Apple Developer Tools. Xcode can be used to write apps for the Mac and iOS - and since both the Mac and iOS devices access the same architecture, Apple's only offers Xcode for Mac OSX. So if you work under Windows, you have to look for another solution to throttle your network.

If you search the net for the possibility to install Link Conditioner, it happens that you come across descriptions that assume that the software is already installed. For example here: Network Link Conditioner in Lion - Matt Gemmel

So let's check that out first:

  • Open the Finder
  • Locate the folder Applications > Utilities (or: CMD + Shift + U).
  • Is there a folder there called "Network Link Conditioner"?
  • Fine - in the folder there is a PrefPane file that you can install by double-clicking in the system settings. Then you are ready and can use the software.

To install the Network Link Condtioner afterwards, you need a free Apple Developer Account

Once you have created it, download the Developer Tools, more specifically Xcode from the Mac App Store.

The download and installation take a few minutes!

Now start Xcode. The following menu will take you to the website where you can download the Network Link Conditioner: Xcode > Open Developer Tools > More Developer Tools

Now log in to the website with your new or existing developer account.

You now have the option of installing various developer tools. Look for the Hardware IO Tools for Xcode right away. You can usually press CMD + F and find the file directly with the browser search, because it should already be listed on the page. Among other things, this file contains the Network Link Conditioner. Load and open the disk image.

Double-click on Network Link Conditioner.prefpane to start the installation.

The Network Link Conditioner now is accessible in the system settings.

Here are the steps at a glance

All in all, it is a time-consuming process, so here is an overview of all the steps.

  • Create a developer account
  • Install Xcode via the Mac App Store
  • Launch Xcode
  • Select Xcode > Open Developer Tools > More Developer Tools
  • Log in to the website that opens
  • Search for Hardware IO Tools for Xcode.
  • Download the file
  • Install Network Link Conditioner.prefpane.

What you can do with the new software

If you now start the Network Link Conditioner via the system setting, you can set different network speeds via the pull-down menu Profiles. You do not modify your entire network with the settings - only the Mac is slowed down.

Together with the iPhone simulator, which is also in Xcode, you can experience your mobile website almost as a visitor would use it on the bus. Of course, not all households have a high-speed DSL connection yet, so it's worth slowing down your own website for the desktop with the tool as well!

One more note:

If you restart the computer, the settings of the Network Link Conditioner are reset! So you don't have to remember for several days which profile you worked with the last time!

And now good luck testing your website - is it fast enough when you open it via the Edge, Lossy Network profile?