How to Test Speed of Connectivity

by Andy Walton

Accurate speed testing is an important part of network optimization, helping you to identify and diagnose performance issues with your connection. When testing a network, you should bear in mind that any connection can only transmit data as fast as its slowest link. As such, it is often useful to run a series of tests on different parts of your connection to identify the source of any speed issues.

Online Speed Test

Online speed test sites, such as ZDNet's Broadband Speedtest and Ookla Speedtest, provide a simple method of working out the overall speed of your Internet connection (see Resources). They work by streaming data to your computer for a given period of time and then analyzing how much data has been received. The more data received, the faster your overall connection is. However, they can be vulnerable to factors such as temporary network congestion, meaning that you may need to run a few tests to get an accurate overall result.

Router Menu

Many routers have a status page on their configuration menu. This page shows you statistics about the device's current operation, with sync speed usually included among them. A router's sync speed is the speed at which the device is connected to an Internet service provider's equipment. Checking this value enables you to see the speed at which your Internet connection comes in to your property, helping you to work out whether a speed issue is located on your local network.

Network Testing Software

Network testing software is software that allows you to check conditions on your network. This type of software is particularly useful if you suspect your speed problems lie in between your devices and your router rather than with your router's connection to your service provider. Examples include Totusoft LAN Speed Test, which times how long it takes to write a 1MB file to a network folder, and Hoo Technologies NetMeter, which provides longer-term monitoring on your connection as you transfer files (see Resources).

Manual Testing

You can test connection speed manually by timing how long it takes for a device to copy a file to a network share on another machine. For example, if it takes one minute for a device to copy a 600MB file to another machine, you know that the connection is transferring data at 10 megabytes or 80 megabits per second. This method is convenient, as it does not require you to install extra software, but requires you to be very accurate when timing the file transfer.

About the Author

Andy Walton has been a technology writer since 2009, specializing in networking and mobile communications. He was previously an IT technician and product manager. Walton is based in Leicester, England, and holds a bachelor's degree in information systems from the University of Leeds.

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