|The Sentrian Service Desk team comes across all manner of questions on supporting, maintaining and operating IT systems. Sentrian #AMA (Ask Me Anything) is intended to share information on common issues, so you have the answers you need without having to call for help. Go ahead... ask us anything!|
A speed test is one way to determine the maximum throughput of your internet connection (download/upload). In other words, how fast it can perform.
The test works by downloading a sample of random data to your computer then sending the sample back out while timing each transfer. The results of the test will give you a speed rating in kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps). The higher this number is, the better.
You can use the results to compare internet providers and validate the speed your service.
Most speed tests only provide indicative results. Meaning they can show if an issue exists, but they provide little to no information on the cause.
What you should know
A popular and largely reliable website for running a test is Speedtest by Ookla.
Before you run a speed test there are a few things you should consider that can impact the results:
- Try to avoid using the internet in any other program while running the test. This includes updates. Plus, if someone else on your connection is downloading at the same time the speed test is running, the speed test will not be able to perform accurately.
- Use a wired connection. Using wireless affects results depending how far you are away from the wireless access point (WAP). Additionally, there is also a chance there may be interference from other devices (other wireless networks, microwaves, speaker systems, etc.).
- Ensure you are running a test to multiple locations. If the server you are trying to connect is in another city, it may pay to run a test to a server closer to where your server is located.
- Though rarely an issue with modern devices, ensure that your machine/cabling is able to handle the speed.
- Adequate ethernet cables are typically labelled Cat 5e or Cat 6.
- The ethernet port on your computer should be at a standard of 100Mbps or 1000Mbps (also known as 1Gbps). This should be the case unless you're using a very old device.
- The network device you are connecting to should ideally be capable of 1000Mbps (1Gbps). But 100Mbps should be for acceptable for home use.
Running the Speed Test
The Speedtest website is very straightforward with few options change settings. Here is our guide:
- Go to Speedtest by Ookla. It should automatically connect you to the closest server in the area, once ready, press 'GO'. The speed test will now run for approximately 60 seconds.
- Your results will now display with the ping, download and upload speeds.
- Ping is the reaction time of your connection. It measures how fast you get a response after you've sent out a request. Ping is measured in milliseconds (ms). The lower it is, the better.
- The download speed is how fast you can pull data from the server to you. Download speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). The higher, the better.
- The upload speed is how fast you send data from you to others. Upload speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Again, the higher, the better (however it is typically lower than your download speed).
- It's helpful to vary speed tests to ensure their accuracy. Try changing servers, testing at different times across the day and on different devices.
However do not repeatedly perform these tests during business hours. Speed tests can cause issues for other users because they try to use your entire internet connection capacity to test performance. And watch out, repeatedly running these tests can use a large amount of your data limit.
Remember, these results are indicative; they do not definitely show whether your connection is experiencing an issue. If you think your connection may be experiencing reduced performance, please contact our Service Desk.