How do I check my Internet connection speed?

Question

I just got a high-speed Internet connection and love it, but how do I tell how fast my connection really is?

-Marshall

Answer

This question was answered on September 13, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The speed of an Internet connection is often referred to in terms of “bandwidth”, is measured in “kbps” (KiloBits Per Second) and is generally designated as “k”, as in “56k” modem The real question is “how much data can I get from point A (a website) to point B (your computer) at a given moment?” Measuring bandwidth can be tricky because your actual results are not based solely on how you connect to the Internet The sites that you are connecting to, as well as the time of day and who is providing your service, all come into play

Think of bandwidth like you would water pressure A garden hose will only be able to provide a minimal amount of water pressure due to its size, while a fire hose can provide dramatically more, but the source of the water has as much to due with the results as the hose We have all experienced a drop in water pressure to our homes during certain periods of the day when many others in our neighborhood are using the water system at the same time This same thing can happen when lots of users are on your ISP’s system or when many users are trying to access the same web page at the same time.

Understanding this, you can check your “download” speeds from various websites, such as 2wire or MSN’s Bandwidth Forum, <a href="http://www.datadoctors.com/howfast.htm"><font color="#003399">(click here for a list)</font></a> which can give you an idea of how fast your connection is at the precise moment of testing For example, my cable modem has been “clocked” from 600k to as high as 6000k depending upon when I tested it I generally get between 2000k and 4000k, which in Internet speeds is blazing! Remember, most 56k modems connect between 26k and 48k, so the cable modem industries claims of “Up to 100 times faster than a 28.8k modem” can be achieved

To get a fairly good idea of your average speeds, you must run the test on many occasions and in many different hours of the day This process can help you to determine the best days and times to be on-line It can also be helpful when you are having a problem downloading certain websites For example, if a site is taking a long time to download, you can quickly flip over to one of the test sites to check to see if your overall bandwidth is lower than normal If not, the problem lies with the specific site that you are attempting to access.

No matter how you connect to the web or how much you pay, overall Internet access performance is not a constant; so don’t expect it from any Internet Service Provider.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on September 13, 2000