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How to Check the Speed of Your Internet Connection

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/9/2013

There are precious few problems more irritating to an Internet user than that of a slow connection. This article provides some ways in which you can check the speed of your connection, make some judgments regarding it, and take the appropriate steps.

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    Average internet speed can vary greatly, anywhere from 5 to 10 mbps may be typical depending on the area you live in. Check with your service provider to see how fast your Internet connection is supposed to be.

    Also, if multiple computers are using the same Internet connection, then of course you can expect that the Internet will be running more slowly than the optimum connectivity advertised by your service provider. Consider their bandwidth usage before jumping the gun and assuming there's an actual problem.

    If you've considered all this and you still think there's a problem, then read on:

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    How To Check The Speed

    Your Internet provider may have speed tests available on their website, so checking for such tests that are specialized to your connection might be a good idea. Also, depending on your operating system, there may be some sort of speed test or meter already installed on your machine for your use.

    Your best bet is to use one of many “speed tests" available online. These tests will check the speed of your internet connection, most of them for free, providing quick, easy, accurate results.

    There are two different types of speed tests available: ones that are done in-browser, and ones that are completed with downloaded software. Typically, how they work is by testing how long it takes to transmit data between your Internet connection and the server of the site.

    Either method works, but have their particular advantages and disadvantages. While in-browser speedtests tend to be more convenient, they don't provide nearly the statistical depth or flexibility of a downloaded speedtest software.

    For some examples: offers easy, free, global Internet speedtests in-browser, and LAN Speed Test 1.0 (measures the local area network) are available free for use and download.

    If you're not inclined towards any of these, you can also use a script to check for the speed yourself. This article provides both a review of and a way of testing your LAN network speed using a simple PHP script.

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    Now What?

    So now that you’ve got this speed information… what do you do with it? Well, try and speed it up a bit. There are two causes for a slowdown of your network: software ones and physical ones.

    Software slowdowns you can probably resolve for yourself. Try scanning your computer for viruses, and make sure there aren't any Internet-happy applications running in background. However, while such fixes may noticeably increase the speed at which you can browse, it still may not be increasing the actual speed of the connection. If the connection is still significantly below what your service provider advertised, then a call to your service provider might be in order so they can arrange a visit to check it out for themselves. After all, they provide you with the connection speed that you pay for. If it's not your fault that it's running slowly, then chances are, it's theirs.