In this guide, we’ll explain what an internet speed test is, explain what the results mean, and why you might be experiencing slow internet speeds.
Table of Contents
What an Internet Speed Test Is
An internet speed test is, very simply, an application that measures how fast your internet is in real-time at that moment in time. Test results can vary depending on your internet provider, internet connection type, and the time of day.
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 speed test results 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:
- Download Speed – This measures how fast you can receive data from the internet to your device. Internet providers usually prioritize download speeds on their network since most internet activities require download versus upload speed, such as streaming movies or gaming online.
- 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. What does ping mean on a speed test? 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.
Understanding Internet Providers’ Speeds
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, a good speed test result is if the speeds are at least 50 to 200 Mbps within range of the top speed advertised for your service.
Another important factor in understanding internet speed is that the speed your provider advertises is based on a wired connection. Wireless speeds will always be somewhat slower than this advertised speed as there are many variables that affect WiFi connectivity. If possible, run a speed test from a computer that is connected via an ethernet cable to your modem or router. This will produce the most accurate speed test result.
There are many reason why you might be experiencing slower internet than normal. We list the three main reasons (and solutions) you can try before calling your provider for help.
Find how much Internet Speed do you need
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Reasons for Slow Internet
Here are the three most likely reasons for slow internet that you can easily fix on your own in as little as 10 minutes.
Your Router Needs a Better Location
The most common cause for slow WiFi is equipment location. Routers and modems need space of their own to perform at peak capacity. So, try to avoid placing your router on the floor, near other cords, behind furniture, or tucked in a corner. Instead, 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 simple, regular maintenance to perform optimally. Restarting your modem and router on a regular basis is one of the easiest ways to troubleshoot internet issues and refresh connections. We recommend doing this monthly to ensure you get the most out of your internet equipment. Set a reminder on your phone or use an outlet timer to automate the task.
Time Required: 5-10 min
Too Many Devices are Online
Your WiFi router determines which devices need bandwidth and pulls excess bandwidth randomly from device to ensure they all have an active, stable connection. As you connect more devices to your network, you risk using 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 and router resources.
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 internet provider. In some cases, they 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 in your neighborhood 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 determine if your internet speed is right for your lifestyle. If you constantly find your connection to be too slow, as evidenced by video buffering when you’re trying to binge your favorite show, 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
Is your internet connection constantly slowing down your productivity? Or is your online gaming speed laggy? It may be time to upgrade your internet plan. Use HighSpeedOptions to compare top providers and plans available near you.