Having a speedy internet connection is vital in the modern world. In a fast paced environment, nobody has time to wait around for pages to load. With super-fast broadband becoming more accessible than ever there is no longer any excuse for slow download speeds, yet slow internet connections are an ever-present problem for mobile and PC users alike.
When you chose a broadband provider, no doubt you were promised a particular speed. Every company boasts fast speeds in their adverts in an attempt to persuade you to switch to their service. However, in reality the speeds you may experience once it has been installed in your own home may be far less than the advertised download rate.
Mobile users often find that their connection speeds are much slower than advertised too. With 4G all the rage, contract providers are constantly selling the benefits of swapping to their fast 4G service. However, once you have the latest mobile handset in your possession and have embarked on your new contract, you may find that not everything loads as quickly as you’ve been promised in the store.
So how do you find out if you are getting the fast speeds that you’ve been promised and, more importantly, that you’re paying for every month?
Download speeds differ all the time. They depend on a range of factors including how close you live to your local exchange, problems with the remote server and even the number of other routers in between your own router and the server. Therefore, when you see a download speed listed as you download a file to your PC or mobile, that may not be the actual speed you receive all of the time.
To carry out a scientific test that would reliably show just how fast your download speed could be, you really need to find a server that is geographically close to you. It also has to have plenty of bandwidth available. Once you have found a server that meets both those criteria, you need to test by downloading and uploading a file to discover just how speedy your connection can be. This would be the best way to find out the most accurate connection speed between your ISP and your own router.
To carry out a test like this, you need to use a dedicated speed testing tool. There are plenty of these available on the internet and simply inputting “broadband speed test” into your search engine should bring up countless hits. Feel free to choose any that you like, however Speedtest.net is reputed to be the most reliable indicator of correct speed. Your broadband provider may even offer their own connection speed tester which can be useful, as sometimes, your speed is logged to your account which you can use as evidence if you need to call your provider to complain about your slow speeds.
On your home computer or laptop, carrying out a test is as simple as searching for the tool, opening the page and clicking the “Begin Test” button. If you are wanting to test the speed of your mobile data connection there are also apps available that you can use. Speedtest.net, for example, also offers a similar speed test to its PC version for mobile users. If you visit your mobile’s app store, you should be able to download a speed testing app that you can install and run to test your speeds.
It is important to remember, when testing the speed of your mobile data connection, to disconnect from any Wi-Fi networks you may be logged into, otherwise you will only be testing the speed of that Wi-Fi connection. You must be using your phone’s mobile data network in order to test the speed of your 3G or 4G connection.
You must also bear in mind that running any sort of speed testing app requires the upload and download of data. Some contracts have capped data allowances, so you must remember this when running a speed test. Every time you try to test your speed, you will be eating into your data allowance and it could be quite a large chunk of your data. Because the point of the app is to download as fast as possible using the connection’s maximum speed, it will use a lot of data. If your connection turns out to be very fast, it could use up to 20MB of your allowance.
You need to be sure, when testing your connection speed, that your test is as accurate as possible, especially if you intend to complain to your provider about your slow speeds. To make sure your results are accurate, you need to follow certain procedures:
Make sure you are the only person using your internet connection while you run the test and make sure that the only program you are running is the speed test. If you are running other programs in the background, downloading files or streaming videos at the same time your result will not be accurate and the figures will be much lower than they should be. The tool needs a clear connection to be able to get a proper reading.
Don’t just take the speed measurement once and leave it at that; you need to measure on multiple occasions. Try to perform a speed test at different times of day to check if that has an effect on the speeds you are receiving – often during the night your speed will be faster as other local users will be offline but in the evening or at weekends you will have slower speeds because all your neighbors are at home and online.
When testing your speed on a mobile, your speed could be affected by others using the signal near you or by poor signal quality. Try your speed out in different places and at different times of day as this can also affect how fast your data is.