Lesson 15: How Do I Check My Internet Speed?

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How do I check my Internet speed?

Have you ever browsed the Internet at home and thought it was slower than normal? Or maybe your Internet just didn't seem quite as fast as your service provider's plan indicated? Luckily, it's pretty easy to test your Internet speed and find out your exact specs. This can help you determine if things are slower than normal and pinpoint some problems.

Using a speed test website

There are a variety of websites that allow you to test your Internet speed for free, like SpeedTest or Google's speed test (which can be accessed by searching for speed test). These sites will measure both your download speed and upload speed. They'll also measure something called ping, which is the time it takes to send data to a server and back.

You'll mostly be interested in your connection's download speed, or how fast you're able to pull data from other servers. This is typically measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and is a calculation of the speed at which your Internet is performing when surfing the Web and downloading files.

To learn more about downloading, uploading, and the difference between the two, review our lesson on downloading and uploading.

What's considered a good speed?

Generally, a speed of around 10 Mbps should be sufficient for most basic Internet functions, like general web browsing or streaming music and video. However, if you have a larger household or a business where several people will be using the Internet at the same time, you may want to choose a plan with a higher download speed. A higher speed may also be helpful if you plan on streaming high-definition video or live streaming video or audio from your computer.

What can I do to improve my speed?

A slow Internet speed could be due to any number of factors. Below is a list of steps you can take to try and improve your speeds:

  • Restart your modem and router. Over time, they may become clogged by errors or end up using too much processing power; a simple reset may help speed things up.
  • Try using an Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi. Sometimes there can be wireless interference or an unreliable signal. By connecting via Ethernet, you may have a more stable connection with a higher speed.
  • Close any programs or apps you're not using. A lot of programs use the Internet. The less you have running the background, the faster you'll be able to browse.
  • Contact your Internet service provider (ISP). There may be a shortage or issue going on with the Internet in your area. The company will be able to inform you if this is case.
  • If none of the above works and you continue to experience issues, you might want to look into changing your ISP. Other companies might simply have better speeds in your area. But make sure to do your research before switching over.