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Test Connection Speed - How and Why to Test Your connection Speed to the Internet

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Most people take for granted that they get the internet connections speed that their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) say they do. However, this is not always the case. Let’s look at a scenario where you might want to test connection speed to the internet, and how to do that.

Broadband internet speeds are affected by how many people are online on the same node. If many people in your neighborhood are online at the same time, then your internet connection may slow down. Your ISP should make sure that there’s enough bandwidth running to your neighborhood to keep your speed at what they guarantee it will be, even if everyone is online. Unfortunately this does not always happen. When a case like this occurs, you find you may want to test your internet connection speed.

The easiest way to test your connection speed is to use one of a variety or free and publically available tools online. There are services that will transfer data between their servers and yours to measure how fast your internet connection is. One of the most popular of these is SpeedTest.net. Speedtest.net is similar to several other tools; however it is by far the most popular so it will be used as an example in the following instructions.

To test your internet connection speed, go to speedtest.net. Their tool will automatically load and ask you to select the best server. The one they select automatically should be fine. Make sure that there is nothing else using up your bandwidth, like something on your computer or a family member’s computer downloading a file. Click on begin test and wait for the test to begin. The test takes a minute to run, during which you will see a variety of metrics. After the test is finished, you will be prompted to enter some information about your internet service provider, what package you have, and how much you pay. This is for informational purposes, as speedtest.net tries to track average speeds of various internet service providers, and regularly issues reports on internet connection speeds. You can choose to enter this information or not.

You speed result is presented in three different numbers, Download, Upload, and Ping. Download is, of course, your download speed, in megabytes per second. Upload speed is the speed that data travels form your computer to the internet, measured in the same unit. It is typical for upload speed to be much slower than download speed. This is because traditionally, most of your bandwidth is needed to download a webpage, and just a little bit to send a request upstream to the server to get that web page. However in more recent times the increasing popularity of photo and video sharing websites means that more of us are trying to upload large files. Unfortunately web speeds have not changed to reflect this changing need.

The last metric that you will see is labeled ping, and is measured in milliseconds. This is the amount of time required for a small bit of data to be sent from your computer to the internet, and back again. You may also notice an ad for a sister service, called pingtest.net. Pingtest.net measures internet connection quality – Ping speed (which is basically how responsive your computer is), and number of packets dropped – how many times that same bit of data has to be resent before it can completely transfer.

You can keep track of these metrics and compare them to the speed that your ISP claims you are getting. If you are not getting the speed you are paying for, you may want to contact them and see if they can fix it, or consider switching internet service providers. If you find that you are getting the speeds you were promised, but it still seems slow then you may need to consider upgrading. Remember though that it is also good to check to see if something like a wireless router is limiting your network performance. You’ll usually get much better results over a hard wired connection.

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