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Internet speed test: find out your actual internet speed

Fiber optics

While most of us probably wish for a 1 Gbps internet speed, this is not (unfortunately) always the case. Have you ever wondered how to test your internet connection for its speed and find out if it is the same claimed by your Internet Service Provider (ISP)? Ever wanted to check whether your new contract is really worth it or not? Well, if you have, you will soon be able to do so. Performing an internet speed test is very straight forward and there are actually many valuable speed testing services out there.

Internet speed test 101: the very basics

While your Hard Disk (or SSD) storage is generally measured in bytes and every kind of their multiple (kB, MB, GB and so on), the amount of data transferred through the internet is usually measured in bits (and, of course, their multiples). A bit is different from a byte in that a byte is composed of 8 bits:

1 byte (B) = 8 bits (b)

You may think this introduction is unnecessary, but lots of times people see a big difference between the speed promised by their Internet Service Provider and the speed they measure. This is (often) because they ignore to be comparing bytes and bits!So if you ever happened to see a big discrepancy between the two, remember that:

  • Megabytes (MB) are generally used for file sizes
  • Megabits (Mb) are generally used to measure  internet download/upload speed

This means that we measure how many millions of bits are transferred each second. That’s a lot of bits! Now that we have avoided any further confusion, let’s go on.

Testing internet connection speed

As said above, there are many websites out there that allows you to easily perform a internet speed test (this includes speedtest.netfast.com, sourceforge.net and many others). What we will be using in this tutorial is Speedtest.net by Ookla, by far the most common one and definitely one of the most reliable.

  1. As a first step, head over to speedtest.net. You’ll see a map like the following one, which allows you to permorm the speed test with a server located in a specific are if for whatever reason you wish to do so (just remember that, as a general rule, the further you go from home, the slower the server response will be).
  2. If, as it is probably the case, you don’t want to select any specific server, press BEGIN TEST on top. The optimal server location will be selected for you.
    Speed test main window

    Speedtest.net main window

  3. Wait until the internet speed test is done, you will then see something like this.
    Speed test result

    Speed test result

From this window you can check your internet speed.

Reading the results

  • Ping: it basically indicates how fast you get a response after you’ve a request to the server. The lower it is, the more responsive your connection is.
  • Download speed: it is an indication of how fast you can pull data from the server to you. Usually it is faster than the upload speed, since users usually load content, pages, images and videos on their computer.
  • Upload speed: the exact opposite of download. It indicates how fast you can send data to the server (or, in general, to others). From this you can get an idea of how fast you send emails, upload your content to websites like Dropbox, or upload videos on YouTube.

You can even share your result with others by clicking on “share this result” on top-right and copying the shown URL.

If you found this tutorial helpful, please share and leave a comment 🙂 .

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