What is an Internet Speed Test?

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We all rely on the internet for just about everything, so the last thing you want is a poor connection. If you’re experiencing sub-par internet speeds or slow response times, it may be time to test your internet speed. 

In this guide, we explain what an internet speed test is, how to read your speed test results, and why you might be experiencing bad service.

What is an Internet Speed Test?

The first step to analyzing your current internet speed is to run 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.

Starting Price

$49.99 – $149.99/mo.

Max Download Speed

12 – 100 Mbps

How to Read Your Speed Test

As we mentioned above, an internet speed test is a live assessment of how fast your internet connection is. The first two measure the speed at which data travels to and from your connected device, and the third measures any delay present.

  • 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 vs 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. 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.

It’s important to note that internet service providers always advertise their maximum speeds available, which don’t take into account the multiple devices or people connecting to your network 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.

Testing your connection helps you advocate for the speeds you pay for and alert you to any service interruptions in your area. Below, we list additional benefits to running a speed test.

Benefits of Running a Speed Test

Since your online activity requires a certain amount of speed to work well, we recommend testing your internet connection regularly to see how it performs over time. We list the main benefits below:

1. Verify Your Plan Speed

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. Equipment Issues

Sometimes your connection is fine, but the equipment within your device and between it and your modem are causing issues. Running a speed test helps you determine where to start in your troubleshooting. Is the modem or WiFi router overloaded? Do you need to update a driver on your computer? The speed test will help guide you through the steps to identifying issues within your home network that your ISP cannot resolve.

3. Dish Maintenance

As part of your equipment check after running a speed test, have a quick look at your satellite dish. Is it full of leaves and debris? Is there anything blocking its view of the sky, or have trees grown into its sightline? Your ISP can also help you verify that it is aligned properly. All of these factors can affect your internet connection and are relatively easy tasks to complete.

4. Assess Your Speed Needs

Let’s say all your equipment is in good working order and you are getting the speeds that you are paying for, but you’re still getting slower speeds and lag on your connected devices. If this is the case, you may need to upgrade your internet plan to a faster speed, if it’s available. Sometimes we just “outgrow” our internet connection and need a little speed and bandwidth boost.

What’s Next

For such a quick and easy task, the benefits of an internet speed test provide a lot of information about your connection. They help troubleshoot issues and keep tabs on the speed you’re getting from your ISP. Since it is so easy and beneficial, we strongly encourage you to make speed tests a monthly or bi-monthly occurrence. You’ll stay on top of gauging your speed and get ahead of any serious equipment issues.

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