There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting down to use the computer and suddenly, it's moving slowly. Internet pages aren't loading; downloads are taking forever. What could be the cause of this? Do you have a program running that is too large? Do you have too many programs running? Is your computer overheating? Or maybe there's an internet connectivity issue - but how do you know? Testing your internet speed could help you narrow down those reasons to find the culprit.
A lot of users don't know how to even go about testing their connection, but Speedtest is a great tool that's simple to use, and free. It will measure your internet's performance and let you know if it is up to par, also ensuring that if you're paying more for a super fast connection, your internet service provider is actually giving you what you’re paying for.
Used by everyday users and businesses
A tool to measure the speed of your internet connection, including how fast you can upload and download files.
So, how does Speedtest work? When you purchase an internet package, you have a few different choices based upon the amount of Mbps, or megabits per second, that are offered. The higher the mbps, the faster the internet connection will be. To get the full picture, any program that measures the speed of your internet will take into account the download and upload speeds, and it will measure those speeds between your modem and the nearest server. The download speed is what most users are concerned with, as that is the speed that affects your web browsing, streaming, and Netflix viewing. Fortunately for us, Speedtest measures download speed, upload speed, and a few other things as well.
Accessing the program is simple. For computers, depending on how often you're going to use Speedtest, you can install the app or use the program directly from the Speedtest website. For computers running Windows, go to the Microsoft store, download and install the app, and you're ready to use it. Once the app is open, you'll see only a few things: the big 'GO' button in the middle of the screen, and below that you'll see the name of your internet provider and the nearest server that you're accessing your internet connection from. Click 'GO', and the test will start. Once the test has finished, you'll see that it has measured the download speed, upload speed, and the ping. The ping measures latency, or the amount of time it takes your computer to send out information, have it reach a destination, and then receive a response.
Next up, clicking the slider icon in the top right corner will take you to your test history. At the top, you'll see how many tests you've ever taken with this program, the highest speed that was measured, and the average speed of all of the tests. Below that gets a little more into detail, with each test showing specifically the download and upload speed and the ping measured. You can delete the history if you would like, but if you want to clear it but still have the information for later reference, you can download the entire history to your computer in the form of a CSV file.
Where can you run this program?
Speedtest is available for a variety of devices. You can view it on the website, or you can download the app on Windows computers, macOS, iOS, Android, Google Chrome and Apple TV. When it comes to internet speed, most users only thing of how it would pertain to a desktop computer or a laptop, but it's definitely important to know the speed of your connection on mobile devices and tablets as well. It definitely is a pain trying to view and download a file or mobile game and you can't because your internet can't handle it.
Is there a better alternative?
There are quite a few alternatives out there, but we would caution you to read the fine print before starting a test. Some websites may be malicious and seek to save some of your sensitive data without your knowledge.
We also have tried SpeedOf.Me. This program does the same thing as Speedtest, and offers a web version as well as an app. Although it is an alternative, we can't really say that it's a better one. After five tests with SpeedOf.Me, our results were significantly lower than they were with Speedtest and the website was clogged with ads.
Another great option is Fast.com, which is a speed test made by Netflix. Immediately upon viewing the site, the test starts, and measures your download speed. It has a clean, simple interface and doesn't throw a lot of information at you. While Fast used to only show download speed, it now includes upload, latency, and loaded latency. Loaded latency is an absolutely wonderful bit of info to have; this measures the time it takes to send a receive data when there are other people besides you accessing your internet connection.
Speedtest gives you all of the basic information that you need and offers the service on a lot of different devices for your convenience. There's a reason that it's so popular, and it's nice to be able to access a program for free and not have to jump through hoops to do it.
Should you download it?
Yes, Speedtest is definitely a useful tool to have. You can use it anywhere depending on what device you're using and you don't have to pay for it. Where Speedtest falls short is the web version. There are just way too many ads that totally ruin the experience. It's distracting, could slow your computer and skew results, and some of the ads have false buttons that could trick you into downloading things that you don't want.
With the rising popularity of Fast, Speedtest would do well to take a step back and consider fine tuning what it offers and how, especially with the added function that Fast ads in the loaded latency option. If you were to use Speedtest, we recommend downloading the app version as it has a clean, easy, user-friendly interface that's impossible to use incorrectly.