Testing Your Broadband Speed

You can use various websites and apps to test your home broadband speed. Compare that to the speed you are supposed to be receiving from your provider and call them if you see a problem. You may be able to get better speeds without spending anything extra.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. On today's episode let's look at broadband speed tests.

So if you have a broadband connection either through DSL, cable modem, or some other source you may want to check it every once in a while to see if you are getting the kind of speed that you are paying for. So check your bill or check your documentation to see what speed you are getting and then go to one of the many websites where you can actually check your speed and see what it really is.

There are a ton of different websites that have speed tests on them. If your search for speed test you will come up with a whole list. Some of these are independent companies. Some of these are apps that you can use on mobile devices. Some of these are actually linked to the company you may be using. For instance here is Comcast and here is AT&T and Time Warner down here. So there is a lot of different ones.

Now while big companies probably do give you accurate results, of course you can't really say they are unbiased because they want to show they are giving you what you pay for. So I prefer to stay away from them even though, probably, the results are going to be about the same. Instead I would stick with some of the other independent ones.

A lot of people use this one Speakeasy. I'll just pick that one for now but you can just choose anyone that you like. There's another one called DSL Speedtest that is pretty good. I'm going to go ahead and just select any city because, of course, any website that you are connecting to is going to be somewhere other than where you are probably. So it really doesn't matter. Just pick something like maybe the top one here, Seattle.

Then it will start the test and you'll see it will take a little while. It is basically going to download some data and test that speed. Then when it's done downloading that data it is going to do the opposite. It is going to upload and test the upload speed. So you can see I'm getting a little over 42 MB per second, which is great because I'm paying for 40. Then the upload speed, you can see, is going to be much lower here. Some services have the same down and upload speeds and some have much slower upload speed. I'm paying for 5. I wish I had more but I'm paying for 5 and you can see I'm getting better than that.

So that's a good deal there. I can now go and maybe do another speed test here and compare those results.

Now one of the problems with a speed test like that is that it is testing your speed at the very moment. Now if you test many times and you find that you are always getting speeds lower than what you should be you may want to give your ISP a call. It may be something simple like they need to maintenance on your line or maybe just ship you a new modem. It may not cost you anything and you get up to the speed that you are supposed to get.

Anything that can happen is that you may want to check their current plans or ask them about it. It may be that you are paying for an old plan that costs the same as a newer plan that will give you more speed. So for no money at all you can actually be getting a higher speed now. I hear about cable companies and telephone companies doing this all the time. Leaving people on these old speeds and when they could actually upgrade them for the same price, sometimes even cheaper, to a new higher speed plan. So you definitely want to ask about that. I mean if you are paying for it you might as well get the top speed that you can.

Comments: 18 Responses to “Testing Your Broadband Speed”

    Richard Fuhr
    12/7/15 @ 10:20 am

    There is also a data item called “ping” that appears as a result on some of the speed tests. For this item, lower means faster.

      Sponge Bob
      12/12/15 @ 4:20 am

      also read up on how trace route (traceroute on a lunix/mac system, tracert on windows) works, or even play with MTR (Matt’s trace route – a great tool). If you’re getting slow speeds to sites, traceroute and ping are great tool start troubleshooting with, assuming the site allows them. If you see “* * * *” in a trace route result, it does not necessarily mean there’s an issue. It may mean that a router a long the way, or the destination is blocking traceroute. The same can be said of ping.

    Phil Wozniak
    12/7/15 @ 4:20 pm

    I doubt that anyone is getting the speed that they pay for.

      jj william
      12/7/15 @ 10:44 pm

      actually, i signed up for dish network’s satellite broadband, they guaranteed me 10 Mbits/sec, and i’ve consistently gotten 18-25Mbits/sec all the years i’ve been with them. 10 thumbs up, if i had 10 thumbs.

      1/7/16 @ 10:38 am

      In cases that’s true but do you mean it in a negative. I’m wireless now on my iMac get these results consistently.
      PING 39 ms DOWNLOAD 129.40 Mbps
      UPLOAD 4.06 Mbps
      A lot of people setup and configure their networks but don’t pay attention to what connects to their networks. You can unintentionally slow down what the speedtest results show, connecting slower stuff to your router like a 802.11 n device on a 802.11ac router slows the throughput to everything else on your network.

    Bob Haar
    12/10/15 @ 7:01 am

    Speak Easy is not MegaPath. And the speed test requires Flash – big FAIL!

      12/10/15 @ 7:18 am

      Why is “requires Flash” a “big fail?” This is the sort of thing Flash is good at — complex apps on a web page.

        12/10/15 @ 5:43 pm

        It’s a fail because you can’t check your wireless speed on an iPad or iPhone.

          12/10/15 @ 8:02 pm

          Valid point. Apple doesn’t allow any type of web-based integrated app on iOS (Flash, Shockwave, Java, other plug-ins). The solution for this and many other things is to use an app. There are many speed test apps in the store, usually free.

          1/7/16 @ 10:39 am

          Why not just download the Speedtest app to test it, it’s app based which rules out Flash being an issue on an iOS device?

    Mac Carter
    12/10/15 @ 9:16 am

    Does anyone why speed tests vary so much from site to site AND between cities? I get wide variations, particularly for Download speed. Here are Download speed results from 4 cities at OOKLA & Speakeasy today:

    OOKLA: 46.74, 60.45, 62.13, 56.09 (more consistent)
    Speakeasy: 27.08, 52.46, 24.09, 69.46 (much less consistent)

      12/10/15 @ 9:21 am

      Think of Internet connections like you would roads and highways. Two points could both be 500 miles from your house but different types of roads, speeds, traffic lights, congestion, weather, and so on would lead to different travel times. The same with the Internet. You are passing through different lines, routers, servers, etc. Even using the exact same route, something could vary like your neighbor starting a Netflix movie or that website suddenly being hit with many requests.

        Stuart J Walton
        12/11/15 @ 1:30 am

        Thanks for the most succinct answer I’ve ever seen to address the issue of internet speeds!

    12/10/15 @ 3:18 pm

    My connection is being reset every 30 seconds. According to my ISP, it’s my browser. However I have five browsers and it happens on every one.

      12/10/15 @ 3:25 pm

      Not sure what you mean by “reset.” Doesn’t sound like something a browser would do. Sounds like a problem with your modem/router.

        12/11/15 @ 7:22 pm

        Modem was recently changed. Should have kept the old one.

    Sponge Bob
    12/12/15 @ 4:15 am

    Don’t take the results as gospel – for two reasons: 1) ISPs are known to proxy speedtest servers, so you’re only testing your ISP’s server, not to the destinationm and 2) (or 1a), you’re only testing the speed of the service between your PC to the egress point of your ISP – so take any reported speeds to o/s servers with a grain of salt. A better speed test would be to use ftp (from the command prompt) to download (and upload if possible) a file (say 100mb in size) to your ISP’s ftp server.

      1/7/16 @ 10:41 am

      Which is why the first thing you should be doing when you get any computer is changing your proxy settings and DNS settings. The last time my provider gave me a gateway, I put it in modem only mode and used my own router for my network, that’s getting closer to letting go of any hold backs your provider can throw on your service.

Comments Closed.