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January 17, 2013

How Fast Are You? How To Check Your Internet Speeds?

Do you secretly suspect that you’re getting lower speeds than your ISP promised you? Or maybe you’ve got the top-tier Verizon FiOS connection and want to show off your record high speeds to all of us with more run-of-the-mill cable and DSL ISPs. The answer is as easy as finding a website with an Internet speed test, which will automatically upload and download test files to measure your transfer speed in real-world conditions.

A number of sites provide accurate and easy-to-use speed tests, but I’ve always had the best result on dslreports.com. For one thing, dslreports.com provides a number of tests that focus on specific types of Internet connections — for example, if you’re one of the lucky ones with fiber optic service, you get a test geared toward extra high-speed connections, while the standard test gives more accurate results for those of us with the more common DSL and cable ISPs. Plus, dslreports.com offers many additional tests and guides for identifying potential problems and getting your connection as fast as possible.

  1. Navigate your browser to http://www.dslreports.com/stest
  2. Select the type of speed test that suits your connection. For mobile browsers, choose the “simple” or “speed and latency” test, depending on how “smart” your phone really is. For Verizon FiOS or other ultra-high-speed ISPs, choose the Java upload / download test. And for DSL or cable (i.e., most of us), the Flash test will give the best results.
  3. If you don’t happen to have an appropriate version of Flash or Java installed on your PC, you may need to do some updating first. No big deal; just follow the plug-in instructions and come back when you’re ready.
  4. Once you’ve selected the appropriate test, you’ll see a short list of available servers. It seems like common sense to select the closest one to your location, but really, it doesn’t matter much. If you do the test a few times and compare the results (which I’d recommend, at least for the first time you visit), you’ll see that distance doesn’t make a significant difference.check your internet speed
  5. Depending on the type of speed test you’ve selected, the process will either begin automatically or wait for you to click “Start” on the test plug-in. Expect the test to take anywhere from a minute or two on typical ISPs in a few seconds on a faster fiber-optic connection.
  6. Some of the speed tests use a flashy “speedometer-style” graphic, others are more sober status updates. Either way, you’ll have your download speed measured first, and then your upload speed. The upload will always be a lower speed — in the case of DSL and cable, about ⅓ the download speed at best. The highest-speed ISP, Verizon’s FiOS, not only far surpasses the others for download, but offers a much higher upload speed (at about a 2:1 ratio).
  7. My latest result on a decent cable connection was about 2500 kbps down, 825 kbps up. My old DSL results were more like 1250 kbps / 250 kbps. When you’re dealing with fiber, the numbers get too big for kilobits, so you’ll see FiOS results that look like “29.4Mbps down/16.7Mbps up” (i.e., over ten times as fast as my poor cable ISP).

If you’re a first-timer, the results will likely leave you wondering about the difference between your “quoted” Internet speeds and the numbers on your screen. Luckily dslreports.com has a number of links to make you feel a little better, including comparisons to other people in your area (with the same or other ISPs), and explanation of bandwidth-stealing details like network overhead, interference, distance from the node, etc… That’s precisely why I recommend dslreports, because it allows you to get as much or as little information as you need, as well as offering you some tips and tweaks to get your Internet as fast as it can be.

Thanks for reading!

This is a Guest Post Written By Hannah N.

Hannah spends her time browsing the internet, seeking out ingenuity, and exploring unique marketing tactics. She writes for Verizon FiOS New York and focuses on bringing value and quality content to a world of lame guest posts. Follow her @hongryhannah!

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