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How Do I Test Connection Speed on my Computer?

Data is downloaded to a computer to measure the connection speed.
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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
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With personal hard drives climbing into the terabytes and graphic-intensive multimedia content part and parcel of the average website, it’s no wonder that online speed is becoming more important. Providers sell access plans guaranteed to fall within a range or based on a top connection speed of so many kilobits or megabits per second. The question is, are you getting your money’s worth and how can you test connection speed?

Happily, several websites are dedicated to performing various functions that can accurately test connection speed. They report the number of kilobits or megabits successfully transferred to your computer, divided by the seconds the transfer took, to calculate speed. A few of the more popular sites are SpeedTest, AuditMyPC, and CNET Bandwidth Meter Speed Test.

SpeedTest uses your IP address to estimate your geographic location so that it can suggest a server close to your location to test connection speed. This provides more accurate results than serving the test up from a server located somewhere across the country. A server that’s located further away will have more “hops” between itself and your computer, meaning the data packets that travel between the server and your computer will have to be routed through more computers. The more hops, the more chance for latency issues unrelated to your Internet connection speed.

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The CNET Bandwidth Meter Speed Test asks for your zip code, connection type and Internet Service Provider (ISP) to give you feedback about how your connection compares to others with the same type of service and provider. Entering the ISP is voluntary.

Since a number of issues can affect any single data transfer it’s best to take several tests, perhaps at different times of the day, and use the average result as an indicator of your actual Internet connection speed. It’s also a good idea to use several websites to test connection speed.

For cable Internet customers, bear in mind that connection speed can vary based on how many local residents are surfing simultaneously. You might find that your Internet connection is faster during the day when people are at work, than at night when more people are at home and online.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) customers are unaffected by load, but are affected by how far they live from the local DSL Access Multiplexor (DSLAM). The DSLAM feeds DSL out into the local neighborhood, with signal degrading at the outer limits of the DSLAM’s reach. A client who lives at the outskirts of the DSLAM’s reach will have a slower connection than a client who lives close to the DSLAM, even if both parties subscribe to the same plan.

After you test connection speed, if your Internet connection falls significantly short of expectations, you might try running anti-virus and anti-spyware scans. It could be that your connection is fine, but that a background process by rogue software is using the Internet connection for its own nefarious purposes, leaving you with only a portion of your allotted bandwidth. If you feel it’s the connection itself, contact your ISP and they will be able to test the connection to either verify proper functioning or repair problems.

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Discuss this Article

Burlap
Post 5

Once I had the opportunity to do a real time internet connection speed test using both forms of high speed ISP services. While switching from a digital subscriber line, also known as DSL, to a cable service I had the two services overlap as to make sure that I did not go without internet connection at all.

This unique opportunity gave me the chance to test side by side the two different connection types. By plugging one in and running a connection speed test and then recording the results I was then able to plug in the other connection and test it and compare. The results were astounding but to no surprise the cable modem service was far above anything even close to what the digital subscriber line could produce.

If you are in an are of the country that has both digital subscriber lines and cable modems available then you should most certainly go with the cable modem option as I do not think you will be disappointed with the results.

CoffeeJim
Post 4

When I started experiencing what I could percieve as a slow down in my internet connection I started to wonder if my internet connection provider was actually giving me the complete service that I was paying for every month. After talking to a friend about the situation I decided it was time to perform a free connection speed test from one of the many websites that offer the service on the world wide web.

What I did discover is that my connection was about half of the advertised price that my cable company was charging me for and I was infuriated.

IceCarver
Post 3

I prefer Speedtest.net for testing my internet connection speed on my computer. It is a website that allows you to test connection speed for free and then easily share the results with your friends by a variety of tools meant to help with the integration of social networking sites. It has become very popular in the computer nerd world to brag and show off your internet connection speed test results.

Often you will find that people who post on blogs and in comment sections of articles will use an image of their speed connection results as an avatar identifier. This is just one of the ways that computer nerds from around the world have taken to the notion that measure an internet connection speed is the "cool" thing to do and to brag about.

sammyG
Post 2

People can become obsessive about the type and speed of internet connection that they have available to them at their home. The only problem with this type of thinking is that sometimes people purchase a service line with way more bandwidth then they would ever possibly need.

Probably the best way to determine if the connection speed you have is fast enough is to identify what about you internet use is bandwidth intensive. If you can figure out just how much bandwidth you need to get from an ISP then you are more likely to be able to save money on your monthly budget by reducing the cost of you internet bill.

kanna84
Post 1

Hello, thanks for sharing. I want to share my experiences with you about the internet speed test. Just get accelerator for your slow net speed problem. I am also using the accelerator for that matter.

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