On the Characteristics and Reasons of Long-lived Internet Flows (extended)

Quan, Lin and Heidemann, John
USC/Information Sciences Institute


Lin Quan and John Heidemann 2010. On the Characteristics and Reasons of Long-lived Internet Flows (extended). Technical Report ISI-TR-2010-667. USC/Information Sciences Institute. [PDF]


Prior studies of Internet traffic have considered traffic at different resolutions and time scales: packets and flows for hours or days, aggregate packet statistics for days or weeks, and hourly trends for months. However, little is known about the long-term behavior of individual flows. In this paper, we study individual flows (as defined by the 5-tuple of protocol, source and destination IP address and port) over days and weeks. While the vast majority of flows are short, and most bytes are in short flows, we find that about 20% of the overall bytes are carried in flows that last longer than 10 minutes, and flows lasting 100 minutes or longer make up 2% of traffic. We show that long-lived flows are qualitatively different from short flows: they are generally slower, less bursty, and are due to different applications and protocols. We investigate the causes of short- and long-lived flows, and show that the traffic mix varies significantly depending on duration time scale, with computer-to-computer traffic more and more dominating in larger time scales.


  author = {Quan, Lin and Heidemann, John},
  title = {On the Characteristics and Reasons of
                    Long-lived Internet Flows (extended)},
  institution = {USC/Information Sciences Institute},
  year = {2010},
  sortdate = {2010-05-01},
  project = {ant, nocredit, lacrend, lander, madcat},
  number = {ISI-TR-2010-667},
  month = may,
  location = {johnh: pafile},
  keywords = {ipv4 network traffic, long-lived flows, 2 weeks},
  url = {http://www.isi.edu/%7ejohnh/PAPERS/Quan10b.html},
  pdfurl = {http://www.isi.edu/%7ejohnh/PAPERS/Quan10b.pdf},
  myorganization = {USC/Information Sciences Institute},
  copyrightholder = {authors}