Test Your Internet Connection Speed for Free
Your internet connection is the main connection you have to the sites and services you use daily. If it isn't working, or isn't as fast as your ISP claims it is, you should investigate. In order to understand how to test your internet connection speed, I am going to explain some background information first.
Not As Fast As You Think
If you're reading this from the United States, you're probably used to having the "best," the "fastest," etc. Unfortunately, when it comes to internet speeds, the United States is slow. Very slow. In fact, it ranks 22nd in broadband speed, behind countries like South Korea, Japan, and even Estonia. So before you start claiming the international speed record, think twice about where America really is.
What Speed Means
When you connect to a website, data has to travel back and forth between the two computers that are connected. If you, say, load Facebook, information has to travel between your computers and Facebook's servers. While Facebook may have some super fast computers, it doesn't matter if the information can't get to you as quickly as they are producing it. Essentially, the speed of your internet connection controls how quickly the information you request can make it to your computer.
How It's Measured
Speed is measured in bits per second: kilobits or megabits per second. This is different from the kiloBYTES and megaBYTES you are used to thinking about. For example, if you have a 5 megabit per second connection, that does NOT mean that a 5 megabyte file will take one second to download. In computers, one byte equals eight bits. This means that your file will actually take longer to download.
Measuring Your Speed
Everyone's speed is different. In order to test your personal internet connection, you need to visit a site called Speed Test and run the test there. Basically, this test transfers random data between your computer and a server near your location. It then calculates how long it took to transfer that data and spits out a numerical speed. Visit Speed Test here: http://speedtest.net/