How to test your broadband speed
Having fast internet access is no longer a nice to have. Whether it’s watching streamed content, web browsing, video calling or smart appliances, the way we live now means reliable and fast broadband is an essential utility that needs to work when we need it. Running a speed test is an easy and quick way to start troubleshooting slow broadband or check what speed you’re getting right now.
What is an internet speed test?
A speed test is a free web-based service that measures the speed, latency (delay) and jitter (difference in delay) of data sent between your computer or device and a nearby test server.
A speed test first checks how fast your connection can download information. It does this by requesting a piece of reference data and measuring the real-time transfer speed. If the test calculates your connection can handle more data, it will open up more connections to send even more information. The goal is to send as much information as your connection can handle to accurately measure your download speed.
The upload test run the same way as the download test, but in reverse. Data is sent from your computer to the test server over multiple connections to measure your maximum upload speed.
NOTE: Before you begin a speed test, it’s important only one computer or device is online in your house when the test is carried out, so if you have flatmates or kids maybe wait until they go out or go to bed.
Know what broadband connection you have
If you’re not sure what type of broadband you have, you can use the Chorus Broadband Checker to find out what connection you’re on currently and what other options might be available. Understanding the potential speed of your connection will be useful when it comes to interpreting your results.
Where to test
How to run an internet speed test
When you’re ready to test your home connection, here are our suggestions for how to get the most accurate result:
- Use an ethernet cable to plug your computer into your modem. Ethernet cables deliver data many times faster than wifi, so always plug in your device before you start your test.
- Restart your computer or close memory-hungry applications like image editors, video and music streaming apps as they can slow down your system and skew your test results.
- The Chorus Speed Test runs in your browser and activity in other tabs will slow your system and affect your results. Close down all your tabs and restart your browser before beginning the speed test.
- Make sure nobody else is online. If other family members are using the internet when you run your test, there will be less bandwidth (or capacity on your connection) to run the test properly. You might like to take the extra step and temporarily turn off your router’s wifi and disconnect ethernet cables from other devices like your TV. Just remember to reconnect everything after your test.
- The Chorus Speed Test will automatically select a test server nearest to you. You can select a different location by choosing a new server from the drop-down list before you begin a test, or from the results page before you begin a new test.
- Run the test several times and at different times of the day to get a fuller picture of your broadband performance. Don’t be concerned by small differences between results.
- Try different speed test providers and servers as results will vary depending on how each service runs its test and calculates your results. In addition to SpeedTest.net, Fast.com, BandwidthPlace.com, TestMyNet and Speed of Me are popular speed test choices.
- If you are on a 950 Gb plan or higher and you aren’t seeing the results you expect, try using Ookla’s desktop app. You can find the app in the Microsoft and Mac App stores.
Understanding your results
The Chorus Speed Test will tell you how fast you can download and upload data. These speeds are described as megabits per second (Mbps) and they should match, or be very close to, the download and upload rates specified by your broadband provider for your plan.
Bear in mind that if you live far from a cabinet or exchange you may not be able get the maximum speed for your broadband plan. Fibre broadband does not have this limitation and is your best option if it’s available in your area. Use the Chorus Broadband Checker to see what’s available where you live.
Your speed test results will also mention ping and jitter. These metrics tell you how much delay you’re experiencing, so the lower these values are the better.
Learn more about this topic: Speed test results explained
What can influence your results?
Good broadband is more than just your connection – it’s a combination of factors including your broadband plan, the modem you use, the age of your device or computer, the number of people online and the capacity of your provider’s network. Any one of these has the potential to affect your overall internet experience.
The good news is many of these things are within your control. Check out our list of tips and suggestions if you are experiencing slow broadband performance.