Livestreaming is all around us. Between streams on Facebook, YouTube Live, Twitch and the like, alongside ubiquitous video conferenced meetings have become a normal part of life. For the most part, we’ve reached a point this works well… until the Internet goes down and it doesn’t. Speedify is an affordable tool that aims to overcome that issue.
My internet connection’s reliability issues became really apparent to me when I found myself trying to livestream a weekly message for my church from my home office back in 2020. I have Charter’s Spectrum Internet, which while not great, is better than the ancient DSL offered by AT&T in my area. When it works, it has more than ample upload and download capacity for a quality livestream, but it regularly slows (or conks out entirely), turning an otherwise strong stream into a pixelated mess.
My particular issue is a peculiar one: the Internet is always working just fine when Charter sends out a technician in the middle of the day, but then goes kaput at 7 pm each night. Too bad that’s when I need it. Since Charter never sends technicians out at 7 pm, I despaired as to what to do until I ran into Speedify.
Speedify is one of a multitude of different VPN services available today. Typically, one subscribes to a VPN to increase privacy when using the Internet, sometimes to attempt to defeat regional restrictions on accessing content by appearing to be from somewhere else, but Speedify’s raison d’Ãªtre is different: channel bonding.
Channel bonding is a networking technology typically inaccessible to normal folks like you and me, wherein multiple network connections are combined to increase speed or provide redundancy. Data centers, where virtually all of the web sites you access on a given day live, have multiple redundant connections to improve speed and reliability. These networks can route data over alternate connections if something is amiss.
Speedify offers the nifty trick of making it a snap to accomplish this sort of redundancy in a smaller setting with the things almost all of us have available to us all the time whether at home or the office: a local internet connection (such as the one I have from my cable company) and a cell phone with a data plan.
When you install and launch Speedify — it is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, alongside iOS and Android — it will automatically turn on the VPN and utilize your default connection. At that point, it allegedly helps to stabilize the connection, but one connection is still one connection, flaws and all. The magic happens when you connect your phone, mobile hotspot or any other second Internet pipe to your device.
On my desktop I livestream from, I have an ethernet connection to my cable internet, although wi-fi works fine too. I then use a Lightning-to-USB cable to connect my iPhone to the computer. After a few simple steps to enable the iPhone to run as a wired hotspot even when there’s another connection available, Speedify is able to detect it automatically whenever I plug it in.
While my cell reception at home isn’t the greatest either, it is good enough to ensure that even when Spectrum goes completely out, my stream stays on and (under better circumstances) the stream stays on with a good connection. Given a good cellular signal, such as my church’s T-Mobile hotspot, to complement one’s home or office Internet, Speedify can keep streaming software such as OBS entirely oblivious to the ups-and-downs of either connection.
Since the upload bandwidth is often more limited than the download bandwidth, aggregating multiple connections also potentially gives you a helpfully larger upload capability, though it is better not to count on that if your goal is reliability. You can max out both connections, but if one goes down, just keep in mind that means that “combined pipe” will contract to the size of the remaining connection. I recommend counting on using half your combined capacity — reliability first.
While Speedify can be used as a regular VPN, clearly streaming work is the centerpiece of its efforts. The system automatically detects and prioritizes streams, tracking how many “Streamergencies” it manages to prevent by smoothing over connection issues during a given stream. It also includes an Internet speed test tool that specifically advises what quality of stream your combination of connections is capable of sustaining (though, as noted above, I wouldn’t necessarily go to the highest quality possible — save some room for one of the connections to have a “bump”).
Typically, Speedify operates on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet directly (hiding in the menu bar or system tray when you aren’t interacting with it), although its Linux support — including headless Linux support — means you can use it on a Raspberry Pi that routes traffic for multiple computers. I haven’t yet personally tested this.
There are a couple of limitations worth mentioning. First, while it does aggregate connections, the individual plan and standard “Teams” plan are limited to around 200 Mbps download speeds — slower than many current Internet plans. One has to upgrade to the premium “virtual private server” plan to have the VPN run at the gigabyte speeds that you may already have with your home or office Internet. For most streaming-related purposes, this isn’t even worth the money — upload speeds are the typical bottleneck and I frequently stream with a connection whose upload speed is just 10 Mbps. When I want to focus on download speeds for other purposes, I simply turn off Speedify.
The second issue is specifically a Mac-related one. Speedify is available both directly and via the Mac App Store. While the Speedify site pushes you to go to the App Store, I strongly recommend the web site download, as the App Store version cannot identify your various connections by name, making it confusing when trying to distinguish which connection should be primary (your wired, home/office line, typically) and which should be secondary (your cellular connection, that may have a data cap on it). The directly downloaded version does identify the differences and can even automatically set cellular connections to “secondary” — a nice touch.
Those small issues aside, after using Speedify for a couple of years as a paid subscriber, I’ve found it has dramatically boosted my stream quality by smoothing out the connection and does its complex but important task with minimal fuss. The free plan is a great way to give it a whirl and then frequent sales throughout the year make subscribing to an annual or even more heavily discounted three-year plan (which grants you unlimited usage) really affordable (Connectify, Inc., free or as low as $4.99/month with three-year plan purchase, not counting aforementioned sales, www.speedify.com).
Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. He also serves as a pastor at Little Hills Church and FaithTree Christian Fellowship.
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