I stumbled upon a great site (Tiplet) that provides useful technical “How To” advice for laymen and techies alike. Click on the image below to go to the site.
One of the “How To” articles was about how to test your broadband speed. If you pay for internet service at home you will want to periodically check your speed to ensure that you are getting what you are paying for.
The article is reprinted below to give you an idea of how helpful these tips can be. You may want to pass this along to your staff.
How Fast Is My Broadband Internet Connection and What Does Connection Speed Mean?
February 1, 2009
by Gabe Goldberg
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like to brag about connection speeds offered and speak glowingly about the wonderful “experience” their services offer. But how honest are their claims and how does connection speed affect what we do online?
The two most important words in any ISPs advertisement or service contract are “up to.” As in, speeds promised are described as “up to X megabits per second.”
(Megabits means “millions of bits” and “megabits per second” is often abbreviated Mbps. A bit is the basic unit of information or data, a “binary digit,” a single unit that is either 0 or 1. Everything on the Internet and all information and software on your computer is composed of bits.)
But quoting “up to” speeds is like saying that an automobile whose speedometer dial includes the number 160 can travel “up to 160 MPH.” When shopping for a car or an ISP, claims shouldn’t be taken as facts — though some are safer to verify than others.
It’s a pleasant surprise when ISPs deliver speeds faster than promised. That results from advancing technology and — in areas fortunate enough to have multiple broadband ISPs — competition. More common, though, is discovering that delivered service doesn’t quite match the 160 MPH sort of promise ISPs make.
So to keep your ISP honest and detect problems, and for bragging rights, it’s useful to occasionally measure connection speeds. Internet connections are usually described with two speeds: download and upload. For nearly everyone, download speed matters most — it’s the rate at which data, Web sites, email, sound files, video streams, telephone calls, and services yet to be invented reach your computer. This greatly affects your Internet experience, determining whether your browser responds quickly or sluggishly to Web requests, how quickly email arrives, etc.
Upload speed measures how fast your computer sends data such as email or Web requests to the Internet. Unless you frequently send large volumes of or huge email or other files — or run a server of some sort – this speed likely isn’t critical.
A number of Web sites measure connections speeds. My favorite is SpeedTest.net; Googling “speed test” finds others. It opens showing you a couple of gauges, a small map of the world, and a large map of your region. Your local map will include many blue pyramids and one orange symbol — that’s the closest and recommended server for your test.
Click the orange pyramid to run download and upload speed tests. When they finish, click My Summary at top to see your download test results along with a number of comparisons — your ISP’s average speed and its speed in your state, your state’s average, and similar numbers for the USA, North America, and globally. Click Upload Results for that set of speeds. SpeedTest.net reports speeds in kb/s — that is, kilobits per second. One Mbps is 1000 kb/s, so an ISP’s promised speed of 5 Mbps would show as 5000 kb/s.
As you run occasional speed tests, your history of speeds achieved lets you can track trends and detect problems. If your speeds don’t match your ISP’s promises — or they decline — it’s worth investigating. Note that cable connection speeds often vary more than those of DSL or FiOS services, though cable broadband is usually faster than DSL. I’m pleased with my Cox cable service, usually delivering more than 20 Mbps download and about 2.5 Mbps upload.
Gabe Goldberg (firstname.lastname@example.org), a lifelong computer pro and technology communicator, has written three books and hundreds of articles for audiences including techies, baby boomers and senior citizens. He enjoys sharing tips and pointers that help people use and have fun with technology.