For most users, doing a speed test is the fastest way to get an idea as to the quality and speed of any internet service. It is a good indication, of course. It can help determine if an internet connection is running as it should be, but there are several factors that should be considered alongside the speed test. Factors that may indicate that it isn’t your internet connection that’s causing problems, there’s another issue affecting your speed.
Speed testing measures the speed between your device and a test server using your device’s internet connection. The results generally indicate the amount of bandwidth available at the time of the test but do keep in mind that other devices or applications may be using this bandwidth and this will affect the results. You should only use a speed test to assess whether or not you are experiencing any issues, then you can undertake further tests to verify where the issue may lie.
If your speed test results don’t reflect the speed you’ve subscribed to, consider the following:
Do a speed test on a PC of laptop that’s directly connected to your router via a cable. Devices such as mobile phones or tablets can have very different Wi-Fi and cellular radio capabilities so you may find that you get completely different results, even if you do the speed test using the same provider. Some devices may not be able to measure the full speed of your internet service or your Wi-Fi router may not support the full speed either. A direct connection is the best way to assess the speed more accurately.
Speed test servers may perform differently. Generally, you’ll get faster speeds from servers that are close to you. We recommend that you test a variety of servers so you can gain a more complete picture of your overall speed. Speedtest has the world’s largest speed testing server network so you will always have the benefit of testing to a server near your geographic location. You will never get the full speed of the link when you are doing a speed test to international servers as there will be latency – as the distance increases so does the latency. You can use the following website to determine which speed test results you should be seeing based on your specific latency:
Try and use another internet browser in addition to the one you usually use. Browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari all have different capabilities and may offer up different results. This is particularly true if you’re on a high-speed connection.
Check to see if you’re running any ongoing downloads or updates or programmes such as video chat as these can take up a lot of your bandwidth. Close these applications and try again. If your speed test results still seem slow, reboot your device and your router. Then, ensure that your router doesn’t have any Quality of Service (QOS) features turned on. By default, most do not have this set up but it is worth checking.
Move closer to your wireless router to see if this improves your results. If they do show a marked improvement, then you may need to consider investing into Wi-Fi boosters to gain signal in affected areas.
Look up the make and model of your router, visit the manufacturer’s website, and find out exactly what wireless throughput it supports. If you have a high-speed connection your problem may be that your router doesn’t support the throughput to enable you to get the maximum speed on your internet service. The same checks apply to your device – if you have an older laptop connecting wirelessly, it may not support the latest Wi-Fi standards. If this is the problem, you can purchase an external USB Wi-Fi adaptor for your laptop which is far cheaper and more effective than buying a new laptop.
If you are picking up a lot of Wi-Fi networks in your area then this can cause interference and affect your performance. There are tools you can install to check if your Wi-Fi network is on the same channel as your neighbours – if this is the problem, you can then change your router channels to improve your performance.
There are several tools that you can use to collect latency and bandwidth statistics and investigate your system more efficiently, here are two of the best:
This can be used to collect latency and bandwidth statistics for both TCP and UDP. It uses a client server model where data can be analysed from both ends of the connection. Some of the statistics it collections include: throughput, jitter and packet loss. This tool helps you to measure overall link quality but not application performance.
This tool is useful for assessing general ping latency and lost packets. It performs a combination of ping and tracerouting in one command but it doesn’t measure application performance.