Safe Tests for Your Download Speed

by Eric Fenton

Many factors determine how fast you can download files from the Internet. If you're wondering how your Internet connection is performing, checking your download speed is fast and safe. Even a beginning Internet user can do it with little difficulty, and you can also learn your connection's upload speed.

Important Terms

When checking Internet connection speed, the most important piece of information is how many megabits per second, otherwise known as Mbps, can be transferred. In short, the more Mbps your connection is able to handle, the faster you can transfer data to and from the Internet.

Free Speed Tests

Many websites provide a free Internet speed check, but one of the simplest is Banwidthplace.com. This website offers a clean interface that isn't cluttered by extra information. In order to start the test, simply press the "Start Test" button, which is in the center of the page. The website takes a moment to calculate the connection's download speed, as well as the upload speed. An alternative site is Speedtest.net, which appears a little more complex but provides more options to compare speeds with other users.

Average Download Speeds

Your Internet service provider, your location, the time of day, and even what sort of hardware you're using to connect to the Internet can all influence download speeds. Cable Internet has an average download rate of about 13 Mbps, while DSL has speeds ranging between 1 and 6 Mbps.

Improving Performance

If your download speed is lower than the performance your Internet provider advertises, sometimes the issue is related to the method that you're using to connect to the Internet. Wireless connections often suffer from lower download times if you are located too far from the wireless router. For faster downloads, use a Wireless N router. If you're surfing the Internet through a wired connection to a router, it's important to make sure that your Ethernet cables are up to date, and that you're using a modern router that supports gigabit Ethernet.

About the Author

Eric Fenton has been writing for journalistic and scientific publications since 2005. He has previously written for "The Pen," where he was the opinion editor. He now works as a copy editor for the "News-Letter." He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University.