How to test my internet speed running a speed check?

Internet speed can be measured a of ways, but most of the ratings you'll see refer to Mbps.

  • One kilobit per second (Kbps) is the slowest speed rating used. It often is used with out-of-date internet types, such as dial-up modems.
  • One megabit per second (Mbps) is equivalent to 1,000 Kbps. This is the most common speed measurement that you'll see today.
  • One gigabit per second (Gbps) is equivalent to 1,000 Mbps. This measurement is associated with high-performance networks.

The higher the rating, the faster the internet.

Let's focus on Mbps for the moment. What's normal? What's not?

Internet contracts offered by ISPs are usually staggered by download speed. Through most of the world, contracts start around 3Mbps and increase from there to speeds of 10Mbps, 20Mbps, 50Mbps, 100Mbps, 200Mbps, 500Mbps, and, in some cities, even to 1000Mbps (1Gbps).

To get a sense of what your internet speed is, you'll need to consider how you're connecting your to your modem. Conventional Ethernet cables can support either 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps) speeds. Depending on how fast your internet connection to your ISP is, then either the internet connection or the Ethernet connection could potentially be a bottleneck. For instance, if you're paying your ISP for a 500 Mbps connection, but you're using a 100 Mbps Ethernet cable to connect to your modem, this Ethernet cable will slow your connection speed down to 100 Mbps, even though you're paying for a faster speed.

On the other hand, if you pay only for a 50 Mbps connection but you use a gigabit Ethernet cable, the cable will be overkill, because your internet speeds from your ISP are so much slower than what the cable can accommodate.

You don't necessarily need to use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer to your modem or router though. If your device supports WiFi like most laptops and smartphones, you can connect to the modem wirelessly with WiFi. In this case, you'll have two connections: Your device connects to the modem via WiFi, and the modem connects to your ISP. Either of these connections could slow down your internet speeds.

This means that you'll need to make sure to choose a WiFi router that supports the speeds that your ISP delivers. Remember, too, that the distance that you're located from the router can also slow your speed, so it's best to have a router that supports at least twice the speed that your ISP delivers.

  • For home networks, you'll see internet speeds that range from 1 Mbps to about 500 Mbps.
  • Ethernet cables support either 100 Mbps or 1000 Mbps.
  • Most Wi-Fi router (802.11g) are capable of at least 54 Mbps speeds.

So, is your internet speed fast enough? And what is a good internet speed?

This gets tricky, in that there is no one “good” internet speed. The speed that will work for you depends on many factors, including how you use the internet, the types of sites you access, and how much downloading and uploading that you do.

For instance, if you browse the internet a few times a day to check your news sites, check the weather, and use your email, you won't necessarily need the same speeds that an internet user who uploads many photos, watches Netflix daily, and enjoys online gaming will require.

Performing an Internet Speed Test

When your internet seems slow, an speed test is one of the tools that you will need to troubleshoot just what is causing the sluggish performance. A speed test is essentially an internet speed meter that gives you an actual reading on how fast your computer is downloading and uploading data to the internet.

Having these concrete measurements is important, because slow download and upload speeds may point to an issue with your internet service provider, or potentially a router problem. On the other hand, if a speed test reveals that your internet speeds are normal, this can indicate that there may be an issue with the website you are trying to access, or that perhaps your internet speeds aren't great enough to support the type of browsing that you do.

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