An internet speed test measures the connection speed and quality of your connected device to the internet. It does so by running multiple consecutive tests that analyze different aspects of your internet connection, namely ping (latency), download speed, and upload speed. Each of these values represents the connection's specific qualities, which you can read more about in the paragraph after the next. This should give you a clue on how to understand the final speed test results. But before we get to these, we first want to discuss how to perform each test.
To speed test internet performance for downloading data the test is performed by opening multiple connections to a server and simultaneously starting the download of a large data file on all connections. This approach ensures that the entire bandwidth of the internet connection is maxed out, and thereby the maximum data throughput can be measured. Recording the data throughput against measurement time finally yields the available internet speed for downloading data.
Upload speed is tested by reversing the sequence of the download analysis. Again multiple connections are opened to the test server. Instead of downloading a file, a large file of random data is created on your device and pushed through all connections to the server. Pushing the data to the server over the network via multiple streams ensures that the maximum throughput is measured. Again, recording the data throughput against time yields the available internet speed for uploading data.
During the ping test, the device sends a small data package over the network to the test server on the internet. This test doesn't focus on upload speeds but on response time. When the server receives this package, it will send it back to the device, completing the roundtrip. The time it takes the data package to complete the roundtrip is called latency, also known as ping. To achieve an accurate reading, multiple ping tests are conducted consecutively, with the final result being the average of all these tests.
All these are automatically handled for you when you use Speedcheck to test internet speed. But you should take one crucial aspect into account to test speed accurately. Choose the right tool. This depends on the device you want to use, being a phone or tablet, or a computer. To check internet speed on a computer, use your browser and the app on this website. To achieve accurate results on mobile devices, you should download our iOS or Android app, respectively. This is especially important when running a WiFi speed test. Because browsers on mobile devices have poor performance, we suggest using a mobile app written in native code to ensure the most accurate speed test results.
Download speed determines the transfer rate of how fast data is transferred to your device from the internet. It's calculated by dividing the total throughput of data in a given time frame by its duration. Therefore its unit is denoted by units of data over time. Most often, download speeds are denoted in Megabits per second (Mbps or Mb/s), although other forms like Kilobits per second (Kbps or Kb/s) or Megabyte per second (MBps or MB/s) are also common.
Upload speeds as opposed to download speeds characterize the amount of data your device can send to the internet. It's calculated the same way and is therefore denoted in the same units. Upload speed is very important for online gaming and video calls, where you need as much speed as possible.
The ping or latency describes the delay of a signal due to the time it takes that signal to travel to its destination. In this context, it represents the time it takes a data package to complete its roundtrip over the network and the acknowledgment from the server that it was received. As a value of time, it is denoted as such, most often in Milliseconds (ms). It's a value for the responsiveness of your connection that also correlates with packet loss. A high latency will lead to more packet loss while a low latency will ensure almost none.
I can test my internet speed to learn about my connection speeds. This enables me to a) ensure that I'm getting what I'm paying for from my internet service provider and b) helps me adapt my expectations about what type of applications I can run like online games or video calls without issues on my network.
It's important to understand that different internet speeds are necessary for different usage scenarios. Both download and upload speeds determine what's possible. So when you test internet speed, keep in mind that the question "How fast is my internet?" can only be answered in relation to what you want to use the connection for. While simply browsing the web can be achieved with low single-digit megabit per second speeds, streaming Netflix in 4K resolution will need a maximum speed of at least a 25Mbps connection speed. Online gaming will primarily be influenced by your ping, with a smaller ping being better while publishing content on the web, like uploading large videos to Youtube will be primarily constrained by your upload bandwidth. To download files especially large files at a good speed you should aim for a download speed with a transfer rate of at least 10Mbps.