Nowadays, it’s fairly common to see internet connection speeds such as 10 mbps and above. Even mobile networks exceed 50 mbps with LTE technology. When it comes to home internet, usually DSL or cable, we have different rated speeds, which are the maximum data transfer rates of your internet connection. All you need to do is to test your internet connection yourself in order to determine if you are indeed getting your maximum rated internet speed from your ISP, or Internet Service Provider.
But how should you do it? Many of my friends would ask me how I test my internet connection speed before they do it themselves. They were really wondering why I seem to always be at my maximum rated speed. First and foremost, you really can’t test your internet connection within just a few seconds. It is possible that you could reach your maximum rated speed. But come to think of it, you’re not going to use the internet for just 30 seconds right? Usually, you’d take around an hour or even much, much longer. It is also very time consuming and a bit impractical to test for an entire day.
If you’re testing your internet connection from a website, it is possible that your results will not be the same on another website. This is due to the fact that the hosting service for a website may not be able to accommodate the traffic. So even if you have a 100 mbps connection, if the website is too congested, you’ll most likely get a significantly lower transfer rate.
I test my internet connection in two ways: direct downloading a huge file which is 500MB or bigger; and/or through P2P, peer-to-peer or file sharing. These are practical tests because these are what you actually do with of your internet connection bandwidth.
For direct downloads, the way I do it is as soon as I click on the download button, I start my timer. After the download completes, I stop my timer and compute for the actual download speed. Let’s say the download completed in 15 minutes. So that’s 500 MB divided by 15 minutes. The answer is 33.33 MB per minute. Divide that further by 60. The speed is now at 0.55 MB per second.
That’s not all. Rated speeds are in megabits per second. Since there are 8 megabits in a megabyte, we need to multiply our answer, which is in MB or megabytes, by 8. And thus, you now have 4.4 megabits per second, or mbps. If your rated speed is 5 mbps, I guess that’s alright since internet connection speeds could fluctuate at any time. But if you should be at a speed of 6 mbps or higher, I would suggest that you perform another test. You can even download a much bigger file if you’d like. But don’t download a file that is too big if you have a slow internet connection. And then if it still fails, do one last test. If the results of your tests aren’t satisfactory compared to your supposed rated internet speed, you could report it to your ISP.
One of the best ways to do a direct download is using a download manager which allows you to maximize your download speed by creating multiple connections to a website while downloading a file. This way, you can bypass the download speed limit since the website will think that there are multiple computers connecting to them instead of just one. The problem here is that some sites won’t allow you to use download managers and will strictly allow only one connection while downloading to prevent overloading their server.
You can also use P2P to test your internet connection. But this will only be useful if there are more seeders than leechers. The best, I would say, is 90% seeders and 10% leechers. It also depends on how much others are sharing. This is a last resort test and some ISPs may limit peer-to-peer communications. But still, this is a real-world internet connection speed test. Try to perform direct downloading first though.
Another option is through the ping test. It could be helpful since it will tell you how fast your connection communicates with a website, service or an IP address. Ping a website and it will tell you how long it takes for a signal to go from your computer to their address, and then back to you. It is usually measured in milliseconds. 50 ms and below is quite good. If it’s like 100 ms or higher, test again. If it takes a second, your network may be having problems. If you lose a packet or two, or all of them for that matter, there must be a problem in your connection.
Theoretically, if the ping test results are low, there’s a good chance that you can reach your actual maximum internet connection speed since there’s almost no hindrance. That will be a very good time to do a download test.
Testing on websites is most likely less indicative of your true rated speed. Coming back to the point of the website hosting services, it really depends on the web hosts on how much traffic they will allow on the websites they are hosting. Apart from that, websites may have links to other sites as well, which could double the time it takes for something to load.
There are also other factors that could cause the results to differ such as internet service interruptions, hardware malfunctions, malware and so on. But nevertheless, I would really advice you to test your internet speed from time to time. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If the results are near the rated speed your ISP gave you, then I guess it is okay.