Running a speed test is a great way to measure your internet performance. Here are some tips for optimizing and understanding your results.
What factors can impact the result of your speed test?
Several factors can influence the results of your speed test. Before beginning, consider the following:
1. For the best results, plug your computer directly into the router. Performing a speed test via Wi-Fi will not show the full capacity of your internet connection. Hard wired tests yield the most accurate results.
2. During the test, make sure you are not downloading any files or using the internet for other activities which might use up bandwidth. For accurate results, you should run the test without other programs running in the background.
3. Different devices can yield different results. Older devices, for example, might not be able to measure the full speed of your internet connection. If one device is showing slower speeds than expected, run the test on a newer device.
4. The test will automatically select the optimal server for your location. If you want to test your speeds on another server, you have the option to change it. It is important, however, to be aware that the results may vary depending on your distance from the server you’ve selected.
5. Sometimes even your web browser can affect your speed test results. Don’t be afraid to run the test on both Chrome and Safari!
Now that you’re ready, test your internet connection!
Understanding your Speed Test Results
The speed test measures download speed, upload speed, ping, and jitter. Each of these metrics play a role in evaluating the quality of your connection.
Download speed shows how fast you can get information off the internet, and upload speed shows how long it takes to get information onto the internet. Download is important for streaming TV or downloading music while upload is important for high quality video chats and content sharing.
The results are displayed in Mbps, the amount of data transferred per second. Technically, this is also your bandwidth. Bandwidth is a measure of the connections your computer opened up and how much data you can download or upload. Because higher bandwidth can improve speed, these two metrics are closely connected.
Think of your internet like downtown traffic. The roads all have a speed limit, usually 35 miles per hour. If every car took the same road into downtown, they would take longer to get to the city center. If the cars, however, had the option to take several different routes into town, they would arrive faster. The speed limit is still the same, but there would be less congestion. More routes allow more cars to arrive sooner.
Higher bandwidth essentially means more routes for your data to arrive at its destination, meaning less network bottlenecks and faster download and upload times.
Ping measures latency, the time it takes for your device to connect and send or receive data. This is crucial for internet activities executed in real-time.
Low latency is especially important to online gamers and businesses requiring real-time processing. Lower ping numbers mean better network performance and faster connections. A ping time of more than a few milliseconds can create a gaming disadvantage or can cause information delays for businesses.
Jitter is the consistency of latency (ping) on the network. This metric measures the variation in ping times. Lower numbers are better, indicating a consistent network connection. Jitter is an important factor in overall the reliability of your internet service.
How does a speed test work?
By mimicking your internet activity, a speed test measures the speed and quality of your connection between your device and a server.
After your computer sends a “ping” or a request to the server, it begins requesting data. Using Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), the test measures your connection with the same method used to share your files and send your messages. This protocol transmits information between the server and the end user in a secure, reliable way.
To measure download speeds, the device creates several connections to the server and requests a data transmission. The device then maximizes the network usage by calculating how long the initial transfer took, adjusting the size of data requested, and opening more connections.
Once the optimal amount of connections have been established, the device downloads more data and calculates the time it takes to transmit the information. The computer then runs the same test but in reverse to determine the upload speeds.
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