How to test internet speed

Written by clemie nye
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How to test internet speed
Testing Internet connection speed is a simple matter. (Internet image by arabesque from Fotolia.com)

When you sign up for broadband or dial-up services, your Internet service provider will normally inform you of the speed you can expect your Internet connection to reach. Conducting an Internet speed test is a good way of discovering if you are getting what you are paying for. An Internet speed test allows you to check the performance and overall quality of your connection.

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What is Internet Speed?

Internet connection speed is the rate at which you transfer data from the Internet to your computer and vice versa. The standard measure of data transmission is bits per second. A standard dial-up modem can transmit up to 56 kilobits per second (Kbps). However, with advancements in technology, you can now have broadband kits capable of transmitting data in Megabits (millions of bits) per second. Although the average UK broadband speed in 2009 measured just 4.1Mbps, in June 2010, the fastest broadband package offered a speed of up to 24Mb.

Download v Upload

When you perform an Internet speed test, you will be given the download and upload speed results. These are crucial parts of your overall connection speed. The download speed refers to the speed at which information is sent from the Internet to your computer. Internet security software makers McAfee formulate download speed as the "amount of data divided by time to download". The upload speed is speed at which you can send data from your computer to the Internet.

Broadband Analysis

Testing your Internet speed is very easy. Depending on the website you use, you may not need to give any information at all. Doing a simple Internet search for "broadband speed test" will provide you a range of sites offering free broadband speed checks. You will need to have Adobe Flash Player installed on your computer to perform the test, but most tests will work with the latest Internet browsers.

Speed Calculation

Internet connection speed tests are calculated by sending a file, generally about 150Kb, to your computer and recording the length time your computer took to receive it. The test is usually completed after one attempt if your computer took one second or more. However, if it took less than one second for your computer to receive the file, the site you are using will attempt a second test by sending a larger file and again recording the amount of time it took your computer to receive the file before producing the final results.

iPhone Test

In a world where mobile Internet is fast becoming the norm, mobile phone manufacturers and Internet providers constantly have to keep up to speed with technology. If you have a smartphone, such as an iPhone, you can download a free application to help you validate the true speed of your mobile Internet connection. The app, which can be obtained from Speedtest.net, allows you to see the download and upload speeds using Wi-Fi or 3G connections from anywhere in the UK.

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