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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

1251. Testing my internet service.

Scott asks: I just changed my internet service to a new faster service. But it seems like it is still slow compared to the speeds I used to see. How can I tell what speed I am getting?

We don't think anyone feels their internet connection is as fast as they feel it should be--it's just the "nature of the beast". You get used to your internet speeds, and over time it always seems to get slower. In many cases it has nothing to do with the physical connection. Sites you visit publish more and more content that is physically larger and takes to download. You didn't previously stream movies, and now you watch Netflix all day long.

It is possible that your browser could cause the throughput to be slow down progressively because of browser extensions--add-ins for your browser which may give you a better presentation of data, but which may cause the throughput but it requires more bandwidth and computer power which can cause the perceived speed to be slower.

You may notice that the speed is also different based upon the time of day. For most home internet users, you effectively share your internet connection (your bandwidth, at least) with your neighbors. When everyone is home streaming movies, you may find that the speed is slower than it is in the middle of the night.

Are you sure other people in your own home are not downloading large video files? Ask them.

There are multiple tools that can test the upload and download speed of your internet connection. We find http://www.speedtest.net to be the simplest to use (you can also use http://www.att.com/speedtest).

It's unlikely you'll ever see numbers on the speed test web sites that match your settings exactly--there are many factors that affect the exact speed of uploading and downloading at any given moment. You can use the speed you're paying for (generally a different number for upload and download) use the online tools to track trends. If you find that your connection speed is always much lower than specified, call your internet provider and complain. It's also useful to turn off the modem, wait 30 seconds, and then turn it back on. This reboot can sometimes help.





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