How to Test Your Internet Connection Speed

In today’s fast-paced digital world, a fast and reliable Internet connection is crucial. If you are streaming your favorite TV show and movie, whether you are attending a video conference for work, playing an online game, or just browsing the Internet, you need a reliable Internet connection. Understanding how to check and optimize your home network speed can significantly enhance your online experience. This guide from Optimum will teach you how to test your Internet speed.

Why Check Your Internet Speed

Optimum provides you some reasons as to why you should check your Internet speed performance periodically:

  • To verify that your speeds match your provider’s advertised speed in your area.
  • Testing will allow you to find and troubleshoot connectivity issues, lag, excessive buffering, etc. Comparing Internet speed test results over time should identify problems.
  • Your speed test results will help determine if faster Internet speeds are needed for your home network.

Preparing for an Internet Speed Test

Before you begin to run an Internet speed test, it is essential that you prepare your device and network environment. You should shut off other devices that may be using the Internet and connect your device directly to your modem or gateway with an ethernet cable since testing over WiFi can result in slower speeds.


Understanding Internet Speed Test Results

After running a speed test, you will receive four results in addition to the overall speed. The four results are download and upload speeds, latency, and jitter measurements:

  • Download speed - The rate at which data is transferred from the Internet to your device. 25+ Mbps is recommended for most activities.
  • Upload speed - How fast data can be sent from your device to the Internet. Faster uploads help with video calls, streaming, etc.
  • Latency (aka Ping) - The time it takes data to travel to a remote server and back. Under 100 milliseconds (ms) is generally acceptable. Lower latency enables smoother video calls, gaming, etc.
  • Jitter - Variability in latency over time. Lower jitter means more consistent response times from your connection.

Understanding the metrics and speed results is important when assessing your Internet performance and identifying areas for improvement.


What Factors Can Impact Internet Speeds?

There are various factors that can impact your Internet speed, including your Internet plan, the type of connection (Fiber Optic, HFC, DSL, etc.), and the device you are using for the test. Here are some factors that could influence your real-world speeds:

  • Your Internet plan's advertised speeds - Upgrading to faster Internet can resolve some issues.
  • Connection type - Ethernet gives faster/more reliable speeds versus WiFi typically.
  • Network congestion - More devices online in your area can sometimes slow things down temporarily.
  • VPN usage - Connecting through VPNs adds encryption servers that could reduce your speed by 50%.

Understanding these factors and testing periodically can provide you with an accurate measure of your Internet connectivity. Contact your provider if speeds are consistently below what your plan offers.


What are Internet Speed and Bandwidth?

Internet speed and bandwidth, while similar, are different in a few ways. Internet speed refers to the rate at which data is transferred, while bandwidth is the volume of data that can be transmitted over a connection. Think of it as the difference between the speed of cars on a highway and the number of lanes available.

Network speed measures the transfer rate of data from a source (for example, a computer) to a destination (e.g., a server). Bandwidth, however, measures the amount of data that can be transmitted per second. The higher the bandwidth, the more data can be transferred at one time.

To make it easier to understand, here is an analogy. Imagine two highways: one with four lanes, and one with two. The highway represents the bandwidth, while the cars traveling on it represent your Internet speed. Even if all the cars on both highways are traveling at the exact same speed, more cars will be able to get to their destination within a given time frame on the four-lane highway—the higher-bandwidth road—than on the two-lane one, simply because there’s space for multiple vehicles to move forward at once.


Internet Speed Test Accuracy and Safety

Internet speed tests are typically reliable if you remove any variables that can affect the test's outcome. It is important to choose a reliable and safe testing tool, such as the Optimum speed testing tool.

To help ensure the most accurate results, restart your device, modem, and router prior to testing, in addition, shut off any other Internet-enabled devices, connect your testing device (usually, your computer) directly to the modem, and clear your browser cache before starting the test.


Will increasing Internet speed stop buffering or increase WiFi range?

A common frustration with using the Internet is the buffering when you are streaming a movie and, at the height of the action, seeing that dreaded “buffering” sign. While lowering the video quality may help reduce buffering in the short term or you could avoid that altogether by opting for faster Internet speeds.

Keep in mind that  the speed you need to perform activities (such as streaming or gaming) will vary based on how many people are connected to the network, as well as what they’re using the Internet for. For example, you may have a high enough Internet speed to watch your favorite film in HD—but if your daughter is hardcore gaming in the next room, your movie night may suffer.

Optimum offers multi-gig Internet to help determine the speed that will allow you to stream, play games, video chat surf the web, and so much more on multiple devices.

While increasing your Internet speed will not further your range in and of itself, you will experience faster speeds the closer you are to your router. So, if you are doing an activity that requires extra fast speeds, try and position your device as close to your router as possible.

However, if range is a concern, you can also consider aWiFi extender like Optimum’s Smart WiFi Extender. It intelligently pairs with your gateway to ensure your whole home is blanketed with coverage.


How Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can affect Internet speed.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are essential tools for enhancing your online privacy and security. Routing your Internet through a VPN can mask your location and help protect any sensitive dat or information. However, this can lead to a slower Internet connection. The distance from the VPN server is a crucial factor, the closer you are, the faster the speed.

The encryption process and extra steps involved in a VPN connection can cause a reduction in Internet speed. If you are not far from the VPN server or are using a premium VPN designed to not slow your Internet connection, you can try changing your server or the protocol, upgrading your Internet speed, or using a different device.


Can Internet speed affect the frame rate (FPS) of games or videos?

Regarding online gaming or streaming videos, the frame rate (FPS) is a critical aspect of your experience. The FPS measures how many images (frames) are displayed per second. The factors that influence FPS can include the game's requirements, video quality, hardware specifications, and software efficiency. A slow frame rate can be frustrating, and in some cases, upgrading your Internet speed might be a solution.


  • Why should you check your Internet speed?
  • How do I prepare for an Internet speed test?
  • What will my Internet speed results tell me?
  • What factors can impact my Internet speed?
  • What is the difference between Internet speed and bandwidth?
  • How safe and accurate are Internet speed tests?
  • Will increasing Internet speed stop buffering or increase WiFi range?
  • Can a Virtual Private Network (VPN) affect Internet speed?
  • Can Internet speed affect the frame rate (FPS) of online games and videos?
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