In the world of high-speed data connectivity, it’s apparently frustrating when you wait for online videos to stream or even can’t see fully loaded images of your favorite social media websites. The reason is simple. Something is not right with the internet bandwidth. Either, you are not getting the promised internet speed from your ISP (Internet service provider), or something else is causing the speed to drop. But if you are not so tech savvy, then the first question which pops out is – how to check internet speed? You want this data before you complain it to anyone.

Fortunately, there are several website services and software to carry out free internet speed test.  Some of the most popular ones are www.speedtest.net, www.zdnet.com, www.speedof.me, www.bandwidthplace.com, DownTester (Nirsoft), JD auto speed tests, etc.

But before we dive into different possibilities to check internet speed, let’s understand fundamentals like what is internet speed, what is actual throughput, factors which might affect internet speed, etc.

What’s internet speed, anyway?

The internet speed has two essential parameters as upload and download speed. The measurement is around packets of data that can be downloaded or uploaded per second.  This is usually measured in bits or bytes. A user purchases a certain amount of data (mostly in GB) at some speed (MBps or Mbps) for a specified period from an ISP.

You got to have a good internet download speed to stream your favorite Netflix videos. But the actual throughput varies from the designated internet speed. Amount of data packets that can be transferred over the internet at one point in time. In short, this may change depending on network congestion, other downloads in progress, etc.

For example, if your ISP has promised you 150GB monthly data at 40Mbps speed, then it means that approximately 150GB of data (for uploading or downloading) is allocated to you at the speed of 40Mbps per month.

Why do you want to check internet speed?

The apparent reason to check internet speed is to see if your ISP is fulfilling its promise of providing you the agreed bandwidth. If not, then you can claim for refund or switch your ISP.

Sometimes, you get the purchased bandwidth from the ISP, but it is other service providers who are not proving online movies and video at the required speed. Some of these services are HBO GO, Netflix, etc.

Lastly, you want to boast around if you have some Gbps internet connection and you are getting matching bandwidth.

Internet speed measuring units

Small letter and big letter are not same when it comes to the digital world. Don’t feel ‘b’ and ‘B’ are equal. There is a sea of difference between these two.

  • Kbps stands for Kilobits per second, whereas, kBps is KiloBytes per second. It is suitable for budget-oriented users. This speed is available in remote locations where high-speed data connectivity services are unavailable.
  • Mbps stands for Megabits per second, whereas, MBps is MegaBytes per second. It is suitable for home and small business users.
  • Gbps stands for Gigabits per second, whereas, GBps is GigaBytes per second. It is suitable for large business users.

How to check internet speed?

Till now, you must have understood that internet speed is the central factor of an internet connection. Actual rate may vary based on different factors such as technology used, line quality, hardware capabilities of the router, modem, system hardware, software, etc., network congestion, server route, distance from the exchange (ADSL or ADSL2+).

Sites and mobile applications to perform internet speed test

Pick any of the following standard websites that test the internet speed not only on the computer browser but also on the smartphone browser. Some of them even have a mobile application.

ISP provided internet speed test websites

Now you feel that your ISP is not providing the agreed bandwidth then it is better to test bandwidth on their official internet speed test website to win over the argument.

Other tests that can complement your internet speed test

  • Use the ping command on windows or mac system – You can perform ping test to check for connection latency. In simple words, it checks the time taken for a data transfer between a server and a host computer. It responds in milliseconds, and a broadband connection benchmark is 100ms or lower.
  • Use speed testing software tools – download and use the speed testing software utilities and such as DownTester, JD auto speed tests, OVH.net/files.
  • You can carry out service based speed test like https://fast.com/, etc., for services like Amazon Fire TV, Hulu, Apple TV, Netflix, HBO, etc.

Pre-requisites for internet speed test

Ensure that you are in-line with the following points before you start testing the speed of your internet connection.

  • Stay connected to the internet.
  • There shouldn’t be any downloads or uploads happening on any of the devices while performing the speed test. You can disconnect any other devices, such as smartphones, TVs, game systems, printers, etc., on the same network (wired or wireless) until the speed test is carried out.
  • Use a wired internet connection to test the internet speed to gain the best results without interference.
  • Check that your web browser is latest or compatible with HTML 5, JavaScript and flash since all the internet speed test websites are based on these technologies.
  • If you face any trouble with the internet connection, then switch off and unplug the modem/router, which the devices usually get connected to, for about 20 seconds before plugging and restarting it.

Once you are done with the pre-requisites, input the connection type and location to start the speed test on the browser. Click on “Start the test button” and wait until the web browser fetches out the statistical results of downloading/uploading speeds. This might take a few seconds to minutes, depending on your connection.

Causes for slow internet speed

Several factors might slow down the speed of your Internet connection.

  • There might be an issue with the ISP services as the part of downtime for maintenance purposes, technical difficulties, etc.
  • ISP router traffic overload during the peak hours.
  • The farther the ISP, the slower the data transfer speed.
  • The worst case – ISP tricking you to opt for alluring plans.
  • If ISP is up and running, then check the equipment at your end for any possible device connectivity issues.
  • Any specific configuration or compatibility issues of web browser that changes the default setting of the browser.
  • Computer hardware and hardware peripherals such as hard drive, network card, processor, RAM, router, modem, network switch, etc. not supporting that much speed.
  • The corrupt files or inappropriately configured files of the operating system or any software on your computer that is adversely affecting the speed of the internet.
  • Check for adware or malware, which might be downloading or uploading malicious software.

Simple Troubleshooting

  • Restart the devices, such as computer and modem, before starting a speed test.
  • If the problem persists, then connect to a different computer and repeat the speed test.
  • Use different Ethernet cable that connects your computer to a modem/router.
  • Switch off and unplug the modem/router for about 20 seconds and then connect it in the usual way before trying out the test for another time.
  • If you still face a slow internet then contact the ISP for further check and a resolution.

Final words on how to check internet speed

With the delivery of the advanced internet technologies at the doorstep, do not compromise on the internet speed anymore. Get relieved from the buffering circle and enjoy super speedy surfing both for work and entertainment purposes. Negotiate the ISP for the high data download at the best possible internet speed.