TABLE OF CONTENTS
Testing the LabSim Accelerator's Functionality
Suppose you have 30 students in a classroom, who are all trying to watch their TestOut videos at the same time, but the internet bandwidth available to the classroom is only 15 Mbps. That would make the average download speed of videos for each user in the classroom only 0.5 Mbps, which would make for an unpleasant viewing experience with frequent delays, while the videos buffered.
The LabSim Accelerator is a tool designed for schools with very limited internet bandwidth. It allows the use of a network computer/server to locally cache TestOut course content, and serve that content over the local area network, rather than entirely over the internet. Once configured, students belonging to the school may log in normally and benefit from the content served over the local network. LabSim account information, score data, and general LabSim files that are used by all courses, will still be served over the internet.
This tool may help your school if:
- You have a TestOut school administrator account.
- You have less than 3 Mbps bandwidth available per student using LabSim at the same time, at a particular campus or location.
- Video playback is choppy and buffering interruptions are common.
- Labs take a long time to load.
- You have a computer available, on the same subnet as the student machines, with plenty of hard drive space to download the TestOut course content.
- You have the computer privileges to install the LabSim Accelerator on the machine which will function as a webserver.
This tool will:
- Allow students in a classroom with low external internet bandwidth to more quickly load TestOut course videos, labs, fact sheets, and exam questions.
- Significantly reduce the internet bandwidth consumed by TestOut course material.
This tool will NOT:
- Make lab simulations behave more responsively on slow computers.
- Allow students to work offline.
- Entirely eliminate TestOut related bandwidth consumption.
- Eliminate score recording failures that may occur when using choppy internet connections.
- Help student with low bandwidth, who are off campus, or not on the same subnet as the machine with the Accelerator installed.
- Allow students to access TestOut courses without licenses or activated products in their accounts.
(for the machine you intend to use as your LabSim Accelerator server)
- Windows Operating System: Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, or Windows Server 2012
- Free Hard Drive Space: 8-10GB per course to be downloaded
- RAM: At least 2GB – 4GB
- Statically configured IP address
- TestOut school administrator account credentials
(for the machine you intend to use as your LabSim Accelerator server)
- If applicable, completely uninstall any version of the LabSim Accelerator and its course content prior to version 6.0.13.
- Download the latest version of the LabSim Accelerator by clicking here.
- Configure your server machine to have a static (unchanging) IP address.
- Open/run the newly downloaded LabSimAccelerator.exe.
- Click Yes in the Windows User Account Control window (that pops up to allow the installer to run).
- Click Next to advance through the installation wizard.
- Choose the Installation folder (typically, default is best) and click Next.
- Click Install.
- Click Finish.
- The LabSim Accelerator configuration login window will now appear.
- Enter your existing LabSim school administrator credentials, and click Login.
Note: You do not need to use the same school administrator account every time you configure LabSim Accelerator, if you have more than one administrator at your location.
Upon successfully logging in, the LabSim Accelerator Configuration Window will appear, as shown below.
- You may leave the settings as default, or you may change them.
Accelerator Content Store: This is the location to which your TestOut course content will be saved. Keep in mind to allow 8-10 GB of space for each course you wish to accelerate.
Accelerator IP Address: This needs to be the static IP address of the machine, on which the LabSim Accelerator is installed. Upon starting the Accelerator, a DNS A record will be created for this IP Address. Students that log into TestOut after it is started will have content served to them from the IP address listed in this field. If the IP address of your machine changes, then you must also change it here, apply the configuration changes, start the Accelerator, and wait approximately one hour (or more in some cases) before the DNS entry will update.
Accelerator Web Server Port: 443 (https) is the default. It is recommended to leave this as is, but it may be configured for other ports, if necessary.
Synchronize: By default, LabSim Accelerator will attempt to download/synchronize content at any time. This will first occur when you start the Accelerator. You can specify an allowed time frame, that will cause the Accelerator to check for course updates, only during the time window specified. Make sure that you allow enough time to download all selected content to your server. Course content download speeds are commonly 2-3 MBps, so allow several hours per course to download the content.
LabSim Courses: Select All or Specific Courses.
- If you select All, the content for all LabSim courses and versions active in any of the school's teacher accounts will be downloaded.
- If you select Specific Courses, you may choose from the list of any of the LabSim courses and versions that are active in any of the school's teacher accounts. Only the content for the courses and versions you select with a check mark will downloaded/synchronized.
Note: To avoid very lengthy and unnecessary downloads and long synchronization times, we highly recommend choosing the Specific Courses option.
- After configuring your settings appropriately, click Apply Configuration Changes.
- Click Start Accelerator to begin to download the course content and allow the service to run. LabSim Accelerator may take up to several hours to download a single course. Students will not have their content served from your Accelerator machine, until the course they are using has downloaded its content. You may close the configuration tool at this point, and the LabSim Accelerator will continue to run in the background.
Note: While course materials are downloading, you may see some system slowdown on the LabSim Accelerator machine. This is due to heavy file writes on the local hard drive. You can check the download progress and status of LabSim Accelerator by re-launching the LabSim Accelerator configuration tool and viewing the Synchronization Status. After successful synchronization and configuration, the LabSim Accelerator Config window should look similar to the below image.
Testing the LabSim Accelerator's Functionality:
Wait for the Accelerator to finish synchronizing. Any user with an account at the school can then log into their LabSim account normally and click to enter one of the accelerated LabSim products/courses. If acceleration is working properly, they will see 'Accelerator On' displayed at the top of the page. This can also be tested on the same computer that is running the accelerator.
Can the LabSim Accelerator be installed/run on more than one machine at a time? How does that work?
Yes. In such cases, when the student enters their course, a request will be sent to each of the different Accelerator machines at the school. Whichever Accelerator machine responds the fastest will serve content to that student during that session.
Can the LabSim Accelerator be configured on a virtual machine?
Yes. As long as it meets the specifications, and the other machines are on the same subnet, it should work fine.
How do students access the accelerated content? Do they need to do anything special?
Students should just log in normally. Students don't have to do anything differently. If their account is joined to the same school as the LabSim school administrator, and they are on the same subnet as the Accelerator machine, their content will be accelerated seamlessly.
What happens if the Accelerator can't be reached by the student's computer?
If the client computer cannot communicate to, or receive content from the Accelerator, then the client will revert to retrieve our course content from our main CDN servers until they close and reopen the course, when another attempt to reach the Accelerator will occur.
Can the LabSim Accelerator be installed locally on the student's computer to help with poor bandwidth at home?
No. A LabSim school administrator account is required to configure the Accelerator. Major issues can occur if the school admin loses control over the machines that have the Accelerator installed.
Will custom exams and TestOut Pro Certification exams be accelerated, too?
Yes. The only exception is for instructor created questions in custom exams.
How can I update the Accelerator to a later version?
If your LabSim Accelerator is version 6.0.13 or later, then you can log into the Accelerator Configuration Tool and use the 'Check for Software Update' button to download and install the latest version, or to ensure your version is current. If you have a version prior to 6.0.13, follow the instructions in the Installation Instructions section above.
If the Accelerator On message is not present, troubleshoot as follows:
- Close and reopen the LabSim Accelerator Config tool, and log in with school admin credentials.
- Ensure that:
a.) the listed IP address matches your machine's current IP address.
b.) the correct courses/versions are selected.
c.) synchronization has finished.
- Open the Services tab of your Task Manager application, right click AcceleratorService.exe and select Stop.
- In the LabSim Accelerator Config tool, click Start Accelerator, and wait for it to begin synchronizing again.
- Close the browser tab where you were testing the functionality of the Accelerator. Reopen it.
- Clear the browser cache and cookies.
- Log back into TestOut, select the accelerated course, and check for the 'Accelerator On' indicator again.
Other troubleshooting tips:
- Open the command prompt from the computer doing the testing. Ping the IP address shown in the Config tool. If the ping is unsuccessful, do network troubleshooting until your host and server computers are able to successfully communicate to each other.
- Use the Check for Software Update button to ensure you have the latest version of the LabSim Accelerator installed.
- Use the default port, 443, and make sure you have no firewall rules blocking communication to it. Also, be aware that the course material will be downloaded to your server, during the synchronization, over port 80.
- Ensure that none of these sites are blocked by your firewall or security rules: