In this guide, we’ll explain what an internet speed test is, how to read your speed test results, and why you might be experiencing bad service.
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What an Internet Speed Test Is
The first step to figuring out what’s wrong with your internet is running a speed test. An internet speed test is a measurement of how fast your internet is in real-time.
It usually takes less than one minute to complete and provides current stats about your internet service including download speed, upload speed, ping time, and IP address. These stats help gauge the performance of your current connection and confirm whether or not the speeds you pay for actually hold up.
Internet service providers (ISPs) typically advertise maximum speeds available for plans, but actual speeds tend to come in slightly lower. So, don’t be surprised if your test results vary day by day. Many factors affect internet performance, but before we discuss those reasons, let’s touch on the data measured with speed tests.
What Your Speed Results Mean
As we mentioned above, an internet speed test is a live assessment of how fast your internet connection is. The results you receive include your download speed, upload speed, and ping time:
- Upload Speed – This measures how fast you can send data from your device to the internet. Online activities like video conferencing for remote work or uploading photos to social media require fast upload speeds.
- Ping – This is a test that confirms a network server connection. A ping test sends a data request to a server to see if it comes back. If it does, your connection is active.
- Ping time – This measures how fast a data request travels to and from a server for testing. When it takes more than a few seconds to get a response, a user’s connection usually buffers for a while.
Remember, internet service providers always advertise their maximum speeds available, which don’t take into account multiple devices or people online at once. Users rarely reach full capacity when accessing the internet. Depending on your connection type, your service is working ok if speeds get at least 50 to 200 Mbps within range of your top speeds.
Now, if you’re experiencing slower internet than normal, there are plenty of reasons this could be happening. We list the three main reasons (and solutions) you can try before having to call your provider for help.
Reasons for Slow Internet
More times than not, these are the three likely reasons for slow internet that you can easily fix on your own and take less than 10 minutes from start to finish.
Your Router Needs a Better Spot
The most common cause for slow WiFi is equipment location. Similar to a lamp, a router and modem both need space of their own to perform at peak capacity. So, try to avoid placing your router on the floor, near other cords, behind big furniture, or tucked in a corner. Instead, it’s best to place your router in the center of your home, on the top floor level, or on the highest furniture perch since WiFi signal travels downward better than upward.
Time Required: 10 min
You Haven’t Reset Your Equipment
Like all things that require energy, electronics need regular maintenance and rest to function at their best. Try restarting your modem and router on a regular basis to troubleshoot internet issues and refresh their connections. We recommend doing this monthly to ensure you get the most out of your internet equipment either by setting a reminder on your phone or using an outlet timer to automate the task.
Time Required: 5-10 min
Too Many Devices are Online
Each day, your WiFi router determines which devices need bandwidth, pulling excess bandwidth randomly from each to ensure all devices have an active connection. So, as you connect more devices to your network, you run the risk of using up all your subscribed bandwidth and overloading your internet equipment. To avoid this, try disconnecting devices throughout the house that are not currently being used to free up bandwidth on your network.
Time Required: 5 min
Run a Speed Test Today
We recommend testing your internet connection regularly to see how it performs over time. You can use your speed test results to:
1. Keep Your ISP in Check
Never pay for poor service if you can help it. Your speed test results are an easy way to keep your internet provider accountable. While it’s normal for speeds to perform slightly lower than advertised, you should still be within 50 to 200 Mbps of your paid plan.
If you find that your speeds are consistently too low, this information can help you when contacting your ISP. In some cases, providers will offer discounts, reduced rates, or same-day technician support to resolve your issue.
2. Find the Best Times to Get Online
It’s normal for your speeds to be slower during the evening between 7 PM and 11 PM. This period is known as “peak hours” because it’s the time most users access the internet after school or work. On the other hand, you may find that speeds are faster in the early morning or during weekdays when fewer people are online. The sure way to know the best time to get online is to test your internet speed throughout the day.
3. Assess Your Internet Needs
Routinely checking your internet connection can help you decide what speeds are right for your lifestyle. If you constantly find yourself slowed down by buffering screens, you may need to get a new internet plan with faster speeds. As your online habits change, so will your internet needs.
4. Upgrade Your Internet if Needed
Are you constantly slowed down by your internet connection? Tired of waiting for Netflix to load at night? It may be time to upgrade your internet plan. Use HighSpeedOptions to compare top providers and plans available near you.