This brief guide 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, whether you’re using a desktop/laptop computer or a smartphone. 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 Internet Speed Test Results
As indicated by the image above, my download speed was 110.93Mbps (megabits per second) and my upload speed was 75.10Mbps. This is fairly close to what my ISP claims (my plan advertises speeds up to 100.00Mbps up and down). It’s not uncommon to go over/faster the “up to” speed, some Internet Service Providers do this on purpose so that you have a better chance of obtaining the advertised speeds.
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 50Mbps. I also have a newer iPad Air, and on that device I can get speeds similar to those on my laptop (consistently over 100Mbps).
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, optic, 4 or 5G etc) during the “peak” usage hours, speeds will almost certainly be slower.