If you’ve ever had to deal with slow internet service and find yourself wondering what could possibly be the cause, an internet speed test may hold the answer. An internet speed test will help you measure and troubleshoot your internet speed. It tells you the exact speed you’re getting at a particular time. In fact, this is generally the first indication of what may be affecting your internet.
Internet speed tests are also a great way of ensuring you are getting what you’re paying for from your Internet Service Provider or ISP.
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How Internet Speed Tests Work?
Internet speed is usually determined by the download and upload speed which is measured in megabits per second – Mbps. There is however a number of factors that determine the download and upload speed. These include:
- Router or modem
- Web browser
- Internet configurations
- Service from your ISP
The type of service from your provider is however the main factor that impacts your internet speed.
When to test your internet speed
If you want to make sure you’re getting the megabits per second or gigabits per second quality bandwidth you’re paying for, an internet speed test is one sure way to do that. It could also get you money, because your Internet Service Provider may have to give you a refund if your test shows that your connection is regularly sluggish, as this may be a sign that your provide has an issue.
Another reason to test your internet speed is to ensure that you can stream movies with high-bandwidth. Ever had videos buffering when you’re trying to watch them? That’s because your internet speed is too slow and a speed test will let you know beforehand.
To get the best and most accurate result, do your internet speed test in the morning, afternoon and in the evening over the course of a few days.
And if the result shows that your internet speed is consistently slower than you are paying for, have a talk with your ISP and ask for your service to be improved.
How to conduct an internet speed test?
There are a few ways you can check your internet speed and there are a number of steps involved. Thankfully, the process isn’t difficult. If you suspect that your DSL, fiber of cable provider is shortchanging you on paid bandwidth, here’s how to test your internet speed. This method of testing can also be used with your laptop or other mobile devices if you think your wireless or hotspot internet connection is slower than expected.
- Start by locating your Service provider’s official internet speed test page.
- Ensure all other devices that use the same connection are disconnected or turned off. On the device that you’re using to do the test, ensure all other apps, programs, windows, etc. are closed.
- There are instructions that will pop up on your screen, follow them.
- Once you get the results of the test, log them. Most tests done on the internet will allow you to save an image of the results. Others will give you a URL that you can copy, so that you can access the results page later on, if you need to. However, if that’s not provided, a trusty screenshot will do, just make sure you can easily identify it late. One way to guarantee this is by saving it with the date and time the test was taken.
- Use the same computer or device and repeat steps 3 & 4 several times. Also, use the same internet speed test for consistency.
Types of Internet Speed Tests
There are two main types of internet speed tests. There is the:
- Internet Service Provider, (ISP) Hosted Internet Speed Test
- Service Based Speed Test
ISP Hosted Internet Speed Tests
If you’re planning to make a case to your provider about your slow connection, an internet speed test between you and your ISP is your best option. There are some basic internet speed tests that may give you a more accurate reading but using those will weaken your case against your ISP, so for that purpose, stick with an ISP test.
Another thing to bear in mind as it relates to ISP Internet Speed Tests is that a lot of providers use Flash-based tests, despite the fact that most devices and most browsers do not support Flash. So, you may be forced to use a non-ISP hosted test, but again, your internet service provider may not give much credit to those results.
Service Based Speed Tests
One of the reasons for doing an internet speed test, as stated earlier, is to make sure it is fast enough to stream videos and carry out other similar functions that your web host allows you to do on your website.
In those cases, a service based test is perfect. Netflix for example has its test known as Fast.com, which measures your download speed by testing the connection between Netflix’s server and your device.
Fast.com is actually the only major service-specific speed test that’s available and the results are comparable to what you would get from your ISP test.
Your purpose for doing the test will determine which one you choose.
Another important factor in testing the quality and speed of your internet connection is bandwidth.
What is bandwidth?
Internet speed and bandwidth are often referred to as the same thing, but they are actually different. While internet bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of data that can move across a network link within a specific period of time, the internet speed is the actual data that passes through.
Put simply, internet bandwidth is how much data can be downloaded or uploaded from a computer. Internet speed on the other hand is how fast that data can be uploaded or downloaded to the computer.
So how do you check your bandwidth?
How to check your bandwidth
There are a number of ways to check your bandwidth. While some measurements determine data flow, others measure maximum, typical or good flow. The easiest and quickest way to do test is to use an internet-based speed test. You don’t have to install anything and the results are available in a matter of seconds.
These tests work by uploading and downloading a precise quantity of data and then measuring the time it takes to do either or both. The results of the tests will tell you if the internet is slow, moderate or fast.
However, with these tests, the bandwidth of you internet connection is generally involved in the process and sometimes it’s important that you know about the bandwidth on your local network, in order to do get a more detailed and specific result.
For this to happen, you will need a bandwidth tool or monitoring software and while no particular software is considered the best, you should make sure that the solution you select is able to monitor the bandwidth on all the devices that are connected to your network, in spite of the type of device, platform or the connection protocol being used.
Windows Task Manager is another way to do a simple bandwidth measurement on a single PC. All you have to do is select the Performance tab and then click the network interface and the task manager will show you the basic information.
Checking your internet speed and bandwidth may not seem like a cumbersome task. However, it can impact your website and your business’ overall bottom-line. If your website is not able to handle the increased traffic that it may get overtime, customers could turn to your competition and that is not generally a good sign for business.