If there is one thing that is consistently taken for granted by the majority of people, it’s internet speed. When it’s fast, we never give it a second thought. When it’s slow, we’re pulling our hair out. The question is what can you do about it? Unplug the router and plug it back in? It’s not a bad suggestion. After all, it worked in South Park.
It’s not uncommon for virtually everyone to experience some slow down in internet speed at one point or another. However if you are suffering from frequent slowdowns or interruptions, you’re going to want to find out the root cause of the problem. The very first thing that you should do if you’re experiencing slow network performance is to check your internet speed. Fortunately, there are a variety of web-based tools that will accurately test it.
How to Properly Test Internet Speed
As we mentioned earlier, it’s not uncommon for everyone to experience some type of slow down occasionally. This is why it is important to test your internet speed at various times, on different days. This may seem like a bit of a hassle, but if you’re interested in getting the most accurate results, this is the way to do it.
Think of it this way. Let’s say you come to the conclusion that you’re not achieving the sort of speeds you’re paying for. Your internet service provider probably isn’t going to admit this. Furthermore, it’s more than likely that they’ll simply brush you off and hope you forget about it. However, if you confront them with hard evidence, let’s just say they’ll have a hard time refuting the facts.
The best time to conduct these tests is when Internet traffic is heavy. Identify when you most commonly experience bottlenecking. Chances are it’s after work, at night or on the weekends, when everyone is streaming videos or playing online games. You’ll definitely want to run these tests during those times, but feel free to run them at odd times as well. Remember, variety is the spice of life!
Tools to Test Internet Speed
Testing your internet speed is really easy. In fact, the hardest part is simply remembering to collect the data. Fortunately, the tools you need to test your internet speed are free and easy to use. All of the tools featured on this list are web-based. This means you don’t even have to worry about downloading and installing software!
Fast.com is a bare-bones web-based tool designed and maintained by Netflix. While it doesn’t feature some of the bells and whistles of the other tools on this list, it is by far the easiest to use and understand. To use the Netflix-powered internet speed diagnostic tool, simply point your browser to Fast.com. That’s it. Once the page loads, you don’t have to do anything. There are no buttons to click and no agreements to consent to. All you have to do is wait approximately sixty seconds for the tool to deliver your results. When it’s finished, it will display your download speed in Mbps.
If you want a little more info, simply click the “Show more info” button underneath your results. This will display additional info like your upload speed and latency.
Speedtest by Ookla
At first glance, Speedtest by Ookla is very similar to Fast.com. To the untrained eye, most would assume that the only real difference is purely aesthetic. However, Speedtest does have a few slight differences. First of all, Speedtest displays both your download and upload speed by default. The Speedtest tool also allows you to change the server. By default, Speedtest finds the optimal server based on your ISP and location. However, if you want to change the server for whatever reason, the option is there.
Measurement Lab Network Diagnostic Tool
This Network Diagnostic Tool is handy for novices, but it’s really meant for network researchers. It functions similarly to all of the other tools on this list and will display your network’s upload and download speed. Where M-Lab’s tool differs is in the detailed information it provides about your network.
Granted, this information might as well be in another language if you’re not a network researcher. That being said, if you can make heads or tails of it, it could help you solve even the most mysterious network issues.
The Internet speed test provided by Testmy.net is one of the most comprehensive on this list. In addition to one-off manual testing of download and upload speed, this one has a unique feature not found in any of the others. Testmy.net has an automatic speed test that will test the speed of your network over a period of time without you having to lift a finger. All you need to do is set it and forget it! Users can set the intervals of testing from every five minutes to once every twenty-four hours. Furthermore, they can determine how many times they want the test to run, from five times to fifty times.
How do you test your internet speed? Do you have a favorite diagnostic tool? Let us know in the comments!