This brief tutorial will show you how to test the speed of your Internet connection.
Many Internet Service Providers are playing the “we’re faster” game. That is, they claim to have faster speeds than their competitors. Common claims will be “Speeds up to xMB per second!” etc. Using a ‘speed test’ you can find out what your actual upload and download speeds are.
With that said, speed tests are designed to show you your best possible connection speeds. The software will automatically connect you to the closest server to your physical location, with the least amount of resources being used. That’s not always the case on the ‘open Internet’. Even if you have a blazing fast connection speed – if the site you’re download a file from is super-busy, that site becomes the bottleneck in your speed – not your ISP or your computer/device.
With that out of the way, let’s get started!
- In order to get the most accurate results possible, before you run the test you’ll need to do a tiny bit of preparation. Start by closing all open programs except for your web browser. Make sure to close programs that are running ‘in the background’ too – like Dropbox, your Anti-Virus software (turn it on again as soon as you’re done the test), password managers etc. If you’re using a VPN (and you really should be!) – disconnect from it now. The point of all this is to make sure you’re not using any of your ‘Internet resources’ that may take away from the available bandwidth for your speed test. Along those lines – make sure to disconnect all other devices from your home network before you run the test. If someone else on your network is streaming Netflix to their device while you run the speed test, all the bandwidth being used by Netflix will go ‘against’ your speed test – which will alter the results pretty significantly. When you’re ready…
- Head over to beta.speedtest.net and let the page completely load. Once it has, click the GO! button.
- An odometer will appear and the test will start. First it checks your downstream (downloads), and then your upstream (uploads).
- Once the test has completed, the results will be displayed.
Interpreting Your Results
As indicated by the image above, my download speed was 176.72Mbps (megabits per second) and my upload speed was 175.95Mbps. This is considerably faster than my ISP claims (my plan advertises speeds up to 150Mbps up and down).
As mentioned earlier in this guide, if you have any uploads or downloads running at the time you take the test, your results will be lower than they should be. Sometimes your hardware itself may be the “bottleneck” when running speed tests. For example, I have a first generation iPad Mini – it’s pretty old. When I run any kind of speed test – whether it’s an App or a web page – I can never get it to break 90Mbps. I also have a newer iPad Air, and on that device I can get speeds similar to those on my laptop (consistently over 150Mbps).
There may also be an unavoidable delay on the ‘path’ that the data travels to get from the speed test server to your home computer (and then back). It’s best to run the test several times throughout the day (at different times) and compare results. Regardless of your connection type (DSL, cable, fiber, 4G etc) during the “peak” usage hours, speeds will almost certainly be slower.
Mobile Speed Tests
There are also Apps you can use to test your mobile Internet connection speed. My favorite is Ookla Speedtest. It’s free, stable, and stores your results so you can compare over time. Using it is super-easy and it’s available for iPhones and iPads, Android devices, Windows mobile devices and even Amazon devices.
- Make sure to follow all the instructions outlined above in Step #1. Close all other Apps that are open on your device. If you’re testing your wifi, make sure your device is the only one using that particular network at the time (ie. disconnect your laptop, make sure your kids aren’t playing Xbox Live etc). Then launch the App and tap the Begin Test button.
- Give it a moment to prepare the test…
- and it’ll do it’s thing. Once completed, the results will be displayed.
- As you can see from the above image, even though I used the same network, under as similar circumstances as possible – my iPad Mini just cannot achieve the 150/150 that my other, newer devices can.