You’re waiting forever for web pages to load? Or you spend more time waiting for a video to finish buffering than actually watching it? If so, you need to test your internet speed to ensure your internet service provider (ISP) is providing you with the speed it is charging you for! And how do you do that? Well, simple – Speed Tests. But it’s not that simple after all.
Why use more than one service to check your Internet speed?
Your ISPs can easily give priority to popular speedtest websites. Or the speedtest website might be operating in low server bandwidth. So, in both cases, even if the speed website says you are getting 100 mb/s download, in reality, your actual download speed could be less or more than that.
So, let’s get to the ways you can determine your internet speed.
Ways to Test your Internet Speed
1. Online Speed Test Sites
For the average user, whose needs extend up to checking his internet speed or wanting to brag about it in front of his friends, online speed test sites do the job marvelously.
The two most popular sites to test internet speed are speedtest.net and fast.com.
When it comes to internet speed test sites, speedtest.net is numero uno. It has powerful statistical tools and an easy to understand and fun interface. It has a speedometer like display which displays your download and upload speed and your ping rate. Once the test is completed, you can even see the variation of your speed during the test in the form of a graph. This test makes use of the flash plug-in to determine your speed. All in all, for an average user, it is the go-to site to test internet speed.
Does speedtest.net work on the mobile browser?
Not directly. But there is a workaround, just go to speedtest website from your mobile browser like Chrome and enable desktop browser. It’ll work then
Fast.com is Netflix’s way of giving users a chance to figure out why their Netflix streaming is slow. Its design is minimalistic which only gives you information about your download speed. This is because download speed is the only criteria for streaming Netflix content. Unlike speedtest.net, there is no ping, latency or upload test result. Just visit the site and the test starts running by itself, no clicks required! While the test is running, it shows your internet speed in gray, which turns to black once the test is completed. Fast.com is a good tool to use if you don’t want to be bothered by ads or don’t require any additional information about your internet.
Fast.com uses https by default (unlike speedtest) so it’s harder for ISPs to cheat and cache the results. And it also works right out of the box on a mobile browser.
If you want a comprehensive test that uses HTML5 instead of Flash and supports mobile devices, Speedof.me is a good alternative. It tests your bandwidth directly from the browser via HTML 5 instead of third-party plug-ins like Flash. In doing so, it increases the chances of the test being more accurate. This makes this test more reliable than speedtest.net or fast.com. It is a very lightweight site and runs very smoothly, providing second by second information of your internet speed in graphical form. Apart from this, it also displays the latency times.
2. Speed testing through Windows cmd
While speed tests are great for the average user, most advanced users and users with slow connections prefer the ping command. The ping command is quick, platform independent and can reveal some useful information if used properly.
What is the ping command?
Ping (Packet Internet Groper) is a popular command line tool to check network related issues. Every OS has this inbuilt. Basically, it tells you how long it takes for a “data packet” to travel from your computer to a server and back to your computer (think of it like SONAR). The longer it takes, the slower is your connection.
To test your speed using the ping command, simply open a command prompt and type in “ping” followed by the address of a website, for example, Google. The most commonly used command is “ping www.google.com” as it is very rare for the Google servers to be down. Once you do this, you’ll see replies coming from the domain, indicating your internet is functional.
Ping times under 50ms are excellent, while ping times of 50ms – 100ms should still be fast enough for quick online gaming. Anything below 250ms should be fine for web surfing or casual use. But if you hit 500ms – 1000ms of ping latency, you’ll definitely notice the Internet lagging. Latency is an indicator of whether your network traffic has taken the shortest possible route or not. So you may have a fast internet connection, but if the route taken is a longer one, you will notice delays while browsing.
If you are on Linux, then you can use this command line interface for testing internet bandwidth using speedtest.net
3. Speed Test Software
For our advanced users, who aren’t satisfied with just the information that internet speed testing sites provide, we have 2 software that does the job brilliantly!
JD’s Auto Speed Tester provides a comprehensive list of results for everyday tests as a bar chart. You can set the cycle time for auto testing by the software. Using the data collected per hour according to your cycle time, it will show an hourly average of internet speeds. It allows users to add their test URLs manually or from a predefined list. The test can be done for a single URL or multiple URLs if you so choose.
3.2 Down Tester
Down Tester is a portable application from nirsoft that doesn’t need installation. Even though it doesn’t allow users to see their URL list officially, workarounds for this do exist. An extra feature that doesn’t exist in JD’s Auto Speed Tester is the ability to set the auto test cycle according to the data consumed.
4. Other methods to Test Your Internet Speed
Apart from these sites or a command prompt, you can use
These sites allow you to download test packages of sizes varying from 5 MB to 1 GB. You can find out what speed you get while downloading packages of larger sizes. These tests give truer results than speed tests. This is because these mimic the actual usage more accurately than the speed tests, which determine internet speed by using small packages, which is not the case in real time usage.
The disadvantage of this method is that if there are multiple users connected to a single network, then the speed will get divided among the users.
Note: Do keep in mind that results obtained after online speed tests show how well your internet works between your computer and the testing server. While this is great for getting a general idea of the speeds you get online, these speeds may vary as and when you test from different servers too.
Some common Myths and Facts related to Internet Speed
- The advertised internet speed (for example 10 Mbps) is NOT the actual speed you will get while downloading or surfing the internet. This is because the advertised speed is in Megabits per second, which is 8 times more than the actual internet speed (measured in Megabytes per second, MB/s). This is an example of false advertising to lure customers.
- ISP Speed varies from the server speed (as the internet is an end-end connection the communications take place from the client as well as server side). If the server is not fast enough or fails then it does not mean your internet connection has a problem.
- Some ISP’s offer speeds much higher than what you pay for on certain sites, especially all Google sites and apps. This is because of Google Peering in which Google allows the ISP access to its services at much higher speeds than other sites.
Wrapping Up: Test Your Internet Speed
The only way to be certain is by using different speed test websites or even by download a test file from ovh.net (link above) or download a video from YouTube. This will give you a pretty good idea of your actual download speed.
Which method do you use to test your internet speed? Did we miss out on any great sites for testing internet speeds? Do tell us in the comments below.
Also read: 5 Ways To Kick People Off Your WiFi Network