Are you paying for broadband service and want to make sure you're getting the actual speed you're paying for?
The fact is: many things can affect your upload and download speeds. Slow internet can be due to modem or router problems in your wireless connection, issues in your web browser, or even a bad wire connection from your Ethernet cable.
Checking out the truth about your network speed is fast and easy, thanks to multiple speed testers available today. Choose from those brought to you by your provider, or use a third-party speed test site.
I'm going to make testing your internet connection speed even simpler. In this guide, I give you the scoop on the internet service providers that you can use to check your internet speed, plus I'll tell you about the most well-known free internet speed tester around.
Internet Speed Check
You should check your internet speed routinely to ensure that you're receiving what you're paying for. A lot of the time, you're not receiving the full value of your current plan.
With this guide, you'll figure out how to check your internet speed, so you'll know and understand what your actual speed is in comparison to the internet connection speed you're paying for.
What Is Your Internet Speed?
I bet you've asked yourself this: "How fast is my internet connection, really?" If you're looking for an exact reading, then you should refer to your provider's speed test or run a speed test with one of the many speed testing services that help you determine your connection performance.
We also recommend checking out the Speedtest by Ookla, a free internet speed test that will measure how fast your download and upload speeds are.
Here's how Ookla's speed test will look when you access their site:
And the final results will read out like this:
What Internet Speed Do You Need?
Is your current plan fast enough? Do you need a true broadband connection (the FCC defines broadband speed as 25Mbps) or will a slower package do? The internet speed you need is dependent on the activity you participate in. For instance, you'll probably want broadband service for streaming HD video on TV (4 Mbps with Netflix). Conversely, a lower-tier plan will do fine for streaming music (1 to 2 Mbps).
For SD video streaming, such as Hulu or Netflix, you need a minimum connection speed of more than 1Mbps. However, for HD, 3D, or 4K streaming, you will need a higher speed. Fortunately, sites like Netflix will automatically adjust streaming quality based on your current connection performance.
Related: Buyer's Guide to Streaming Sites
What internet speed do you need for Netflix?
Here are the absolute minimum speeds for Netflix streaming:
- 1Mbps for streaming on laptop
- 2Mbps for viewing SD on a TV (480p)
- 4Mbps for streaming HD video (720p, 1080p)
- 15Mbps at absolute minimum for 4K streaming
What internet speed do you need for Hulu and Hulu Plus?
Here are the minimum required connection speeds for streaming with Hulu and Hulu Plus, courtesy of a Hulu help article.
- 1.5Mbps at absolute minimum for SD, regardless of device
- 3Mbps for HD viewing
There are also live television streaming sites that you should consider as well, which may require a faster internet speed compared to streaming video with services like Hulu and Netflix.
Below you will find information on the minimum required internet speeds for the PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now services.
How much internet bandwidth do you need for Sling TV?
According to Sling TV, you will need:
- A constant speed of 3Mbps or more to stream video content on portable devices.
- A constant speed of 5Mbps or more for a single stream of video content on a TV, PC, or Mac.
- A constant speed of 25Mbps or more for households who maintain internet use on multiple devices.
Internet Speeds for Gaming
According to some sources, internet speeds of between 15Mbps and 20Mbps is more than enough for gaming, but the latency of your connection matters more than your speed. It's important to note that a fiber broadband connection is the most stable. Plus, you'll need good upload speeds, which are favored by fiber optic services like Verizon FiOS, for tasks such as Twitch streaming.
However, Microsoft has provided Xbox users with the minimum internet speed requirements - but recall that minimum requirements do not constitute comfortability with your connection. Here are the recommended speeds for playing online with your Xbox One console:
- Download Speed: 3Mbps
- Upload Speed: 0.5Mbps
- Ping: Less than 150 milliseconds
However, there are some game streaming services, such as PlayStation Now or PlayStation SharePlay, that will demand heavier download and upload speeds. Players supposedly need a minimum of 5Mbps to stream PlayStation Now's offerings, though for plenty of players, that may not always be the case, as they have experienced issues with the service even with 10Mbps download speeds.
Pro Tip: Packet loss - rather than broadband speeds - can be a major problem for gamers. The most common cause of packet loss is network congestion (in other words, too many people online at the same time). If your broadband speed testing doesn't indicate a problem, you can reset your modem or router - or both - to improve the issue. If that doesn't help, it's likely either network congestion or the game servers, neither of which you can do much about besides playing at a different time of day when network speeds are likely to be faster.
Before Testing Your Internet Speed
For the best results, and it will be suggested by most speed test providers, you should do the following:
- Use a wired connection if possible - A wire connection via Ethernet cable provides you with the strongest internet speeds and the most stability. However, if you're doing a broadband speed test over a wireless connection, that is okay too. Just make sure that your Wi-Fi router is not suffering from interference from devices like microwaves. Furthermore, disconnect your other wireless devices that are using Wi-Fi, as that will hamper your Wi-Fi signal and slow down your internet speeds.
- Make sure that your computer is not running anything in the background - Your computer can very well be downloading something in the background. To check, all you need to do is open the Task Manager on Windows (which can be performed by using the control-alt-delete function) or the Activity Monitor on OS X and look at your network status via the "Network" tab to the far right. Furthermore, you should quit or close all apps on your computer to prevent apps from downloading updates while you test your connection. However, if your OS is automatically updating, then you will need to wait until the update is finished before you can test your connection.
- Finally, ensure that your modem and router are rebooted - Refreshing your modem and router will often provide you with the best test results possible.
Internet Service Provider Speed Tests
Here, you'll find the available internet provider speed tests, which should help you determine what your speed is. Of course, even if you aren't using these providers, you can always take their internet speed tests free of charge.
AT&T Internet Speed Test
AT&T Internet plans can be quite fast, depending on your location. Unfortunately, you can be limited to the 75M AT&T high-speed internet. But depending on your location, you can access its fiber internet, which can provide you with up to 1GB of internet upload and download speeds.
AT&T does illustrate a download and upload range with its speed tiers. For instance, you could receive between 45.1Mbps and 75Mbps with its 75M package.
You can access the AT&T internet speed test by either clicking here or:
- Visit the AT&T homepage.
- Hover over to the Support tab.
- Hover over the Internet tab.
- Click on Internet Speed Test.
From there, click on start to perform the test. The test will look like this:
Comcast Internet Speed Test
If you need to put your Comcast Internet plans to the test, you should be aware that the service offers anyone with an internet speed test. Like other speed tests, you will be told to limit the number of applications and devices using your internet connection.
You only need to click here and hit the start button to run the service. You can also share your results and view advanced results, which contains information on the server IP and client IP.
Pro Tip: Comcast is using their speed test as a path to creating open source software that can be adapted to each user's needs. The term open source software means the code can be modified to add features and alter functionality. Once you take the test, you can share feedback so that the program can be improved.
Verizon Internet Speed Test
Looking for support for your Verizon high-speed internet plan? Well, you can test your Verizon internet speed with the Verizon broadband internet speed test. Like other speed tests, it's simple, accurate and convenient, and you will also find information regarding how your test could be affected. All you need to do to run the test is simply hit the play button.
Charter Internet Speed Test
However, you may not want to use this speed test, as you will need Adobe Shockwave Player to run the test from your web browser and understand how much you're receiving for Charter Internet speeds.
Time Warner Internet Speed Test
Though Time Warner Cable and Charter have merged, Time Warner Cable is still somewhat its own entity, but the service does provide Charter Internet packages. In fact, Time Warner Cable features its own internet speed test, which requires Adobe Flash Player.
All you need to do is install Flash Player (if you haven't done so) and click the "Begin Test" button to test your Time Warner Internet speeds, but only after you limit the number of devices that are using your internet connection and after you disconnect from any proxy connection.
Cox Internet Speed Test
For your Cox high-speed internet needs, you'll probably need a speed test to determine whether or not you're receiving what you're paying for. To test Cox Internet speeds, you'll need to visit the Cox Internet speed test site.
From there, you can either sign in to compare the speed test results with your internet plan or click on the "Start Speed Test" button. However, it is important to state that the results can come out wildly inaccurate.
CenturyLink Internet Speed Test
You may have a CenturyLink high-speed internet plan, but you should be aware of how much you're actually receiving compared to what you're paying for.
Here is where you can find the CenturyLink Internet speed test, but do note that you'll have to click on the "2. Speed Test" tab in order to run said speed test. Another important note: you will need Flash player, and if you have a Flash version released before 18.104.22.168, then you may receive a Latency Test Error after running the speed test.
Testing Speed on Mobile Devices
Let's change up the scenario a bit: say you want to see what your connection speeds are on your cellphone or another wireless device, like a tablet. In this case, you'll typically need to download an app, either from Google Play or the App Store, depending upon your device. Why would you want to do a speed test on a mobile device? Just as you pay for a certain speed on your home internet, you pay for certain speeds on your cell phone as well. This way you can see if you're getting what you're paying for while on the go.
Now that you know how to test internet speed, there's no reason not to do so regularly.
If you do encounter slow internet speeds, then you should rely on several troubleshooting methods. Fortunately, we have a guide for increasing your internet speeds.
Furthermore, if you are unhappy with your internet speeds, then you should take a moment to read our review of the best internet providers. Interested in knowing who the fastest internet provider is? We rank the major internet service providers and show you who is the fastest. For an in-depth look at the different packages and deals offered to you, you can compare internet providers side-by-side here.