How to Test Your Internet Speed
April 1, 2021
Whether you work from home, stream TV, use smart appliances and home systems, or play videogames, you need nothing less than the Internet speed and reliability that you’re paying for. Unfortunately, you’re not always going to get the fast and dependable connection your Internet provider is promising you. If you’re experiencing slow speeds there are two things you already know to do: checking and restarting your router, and troubleshooting your modem.
Another step you should take is doing a speed test. Running a speed test and interpreting the results will give you a lot of insight into why you’re seeing slow speeds, and determine if your Internet provider really is giving you the service you’re paying for. We’ll discuss what speed test tools you can use, how they work, what results they give you, and what you can do with them.
What Speed Test Should I Use?
While there are several good services that you can use online to test your speed, including ones offered by several Internet providers, our technicians use speedtest.net by Ookla. It’s fast, free, and very accurate. Speedtest.net also keeps a log of all the speed tests you run, making it easier to track and determine potential causes for a slow Internet connection. It’s also available as an app for iPhone, Android, and Windows.
How Do Speed Tests Work?
When you run a speed test, the first thing it usually does is determine which test server is closest to you. It then sends a simple signal, or ping, to that server and gets a response. The ping’s trip to and from the server is measured in milliseconds. Ping rate, or simply ping, is a measurement of latency; the lower your ping, the better. The next part of the test measures download speeds, and then upload speeds. This is done by tracking how much data is downloaded from the test server, and then how much is uploaded to the server in a certain amount of time. Ping, upload speeds, and download speeds are the three main results a speed test gives you. All you need to do is make sure those results are accurate.
How to Run a Speed Test
Running the speed test itself is simple enough. But before you start, be sure to close as many windows and applications as you can. You should use as little bandwidth as possible while running the test. You should also consider disconnecting your router and using an Ethernet connection instead of WiFi before starting. Speed tests can also be used to test your wireless signal if you run one while on WiFi, but a wired connection to your modem will give you a more accurate reading if you want to get insight into the Internet connection your provider is giving you. It may also be a good idea to reboot your computer or whichever device that’s running the test before beginning.
Once you’re ready to run the test, it won’t take long. Most speed tests are straightforward. Some tests will have already chosen the test server closest to you. All you have to do is start it; if you’re using speedtest.net, you’ll even see a big button front and center that says “GO.” Click it, and watch the test do the rest.
Speed Test Results
You will have gotten your results for ping, download speed, and upload speed in just a few seconds. As stated earlier, ping measures latency in milliseconds (ms); the lower the ping, the faster your speeds. If you’re on a video call or gaming online, a ping lower than 20ms is ideal. A ping rate of more than 150ms could cause lag.
Your download and upload speeds, measured in megabits per second (Mbps), are self-explanatory. If you are a heavy Internet user, whether you play games online, stream TV, or work from home, you want to make sure that you are able to download and upload data with the speeds you are paying for. If you connected your computer directly to your modem with an Ethernet cable, the speed test you are running should give you a pretty accurate representation of what kind of connection your Internet service provider is really giving you. There are a few different scenarios to keep in mind.
If your speed test results show that your speeds are in range of what you are paying for, but your connection feels much slower while you're using it, there are a few potential problems to consider. One potential problem could be with your router or WiFi. Even if you have the fastest connection, the speeds you experience can only be as fast as your router or WiFi signal allows. Troubleshoot your router to see if this is the case.
Another potential problem behind fast test results but a slow connection could have to do with the time of day you’re running the speed test. Be sure to run several speed tests at different times. Speedtest.net will record all of your test results and plot them on a graph for you. If you see that your speeds are fine during the day but reduced in the evening and night during peak usage hours, the problem could be your Internet service provider. Many providers that use DSL or cable networks cannot always accommodate everyone during peak usage hours, which is why users sometimes experience a slower connection during that time of day.
If your speed test is consistently showing you that you have the speeds you are paying for, and there’s nothing wrong with your router, you might need to evaluate your household’s Internet usage. How many people live in your home, and how many of them are heavy Internet users? How many devices are being connected to the Internet at any given time? There is a chance that your household is using the Internet more than you think it is. It’s hard to know how much bandwidth you use, but there are resources online that can help you figure that out. Broadbandnow.com has a calculator that can show you how many Mbps you really need, and whether you may need to upgrade your Internet plan.
Another scenario is if your test shows you that the speeds you’re getting are nowhere near what you should be getting from your provider. Just to be sure, try running speed tests on other devices as well. There is a chance that your computer, like your router, is slowing your connection. Computers with older models of hard drives have been known to cause this. If your speed test is yielding slow results no matter what device you use, it’s time to call your Internet service provider to see if they can resolve this. If there is nothing they can do, it’s possible that either they are throttling your speeds, or their network is simply not able to support the number of users on it. Either way, you now know it’s time to look for a faster, more reliable Internet service provider.
Running a speed test is fast, free, and easy. It’s well worth your time to use one whenever you’re experiencing a slow Internet connection. The results can give you insight into your Internet provider, and whether or not they are giving you the service you are paying for.
Interested in getting faster Internet in your home? With a fiber connection, you can count on fast symmetrical download and upload speeds, a durable and reliable network with fewer outages, no data caps, no slowdowns during peak usage, and no throttling. See if Tachus fiber Internet is available in your neighborhood.