Internet service providers like to make a lot of claims about upload and download speeds when you sign up, but do you ever wonder how those numbers compare to the speeds you’re actually getting once the connection is set up?
These alternative browser-based speed tests will help you determine your upload and download speeds, as well as identify other issues with your network such as packet loss, latency issues, or physical connection problems. There are a number of factors involved in deciding which speed test results you should take seriously, and which might be hokum. These tests specifically performed better than a lot of others, offering multiple test server locations, more detailed connection information and comparison tools, and better-designed user interface than some of the more basic tests.
Speedof.me is an HTML5-based speed test that’s lightweight and designed to replicate real-world browsing and downloading conditions by requesting a series of files in increasing size and recording the speed at which they’re downloaded. Not only does the site display a graph of speeds achieved in real-time, but also allows you to track your results against previous tests. Rather than selecting a location, the website calculates the quickest and most reliable server from 38 available servers, 16 of which are in North America, and all files are downloaded and uploaded in sequence–rather than simultaneously–to imitate real internet browsing conditions.
If you’re looking for a test that’s comparative and comprehensive, TestMy.net runs a series of tests with different sized files and different connections to try and get the best idea of your general connection speed. When it’s done, the results show your speed as rated against other recent users, so you can get a good idea of where you stand. It also displays a graph with your connection over time, so you can see if you had trouble sustaining a good connection the whole time. If all these numbers are a little unfamiliar to you, there’s also plenty of documentation and easy to understand guides that can help you identify exactly what the problem is with your internet connection.
Ookla’s bandwidth diagnostic software shows up on a number of the other speed test sites listed here, but the most full-featured iteration of the test is on Speedtest.net, which is owned by Ookla. With access to over 2,500 different test servers, physical location is less likely to distort the results, and it will quickly return upload and download speed, latency, and packet loss. You can fill out a survey after the test, answering questions about the claimed speed of your ISP and monthly connection costs, which allows Ookla to amass an impressive database of consumer connection information, which can be viewed and broken down by region on their NetIndex site, allowing you to compare your speeds to others around you, or who share your service provider. The site uses a flash-based applet, but it’s lightweight and didn’t seem to have a noticeable impact on testing speeds.
VisualWare’s Myspeed internet test isn’t the definition of user-friendly, but it is a powerful, fast, and detailed tool for more than just measuring how fast you can download that new video game or stream a movie. The test provides a wide range of data not included in other tests listed here, including network consistency percentages, latency, jitter, round trip time, TCP settings, and even a margin of error for its own timing so you know if data didn’t quite get recorded correctly. Myspeed’s site also allows you to check for network performance based on different tasks, like using VOIP and video services, or to check for firewall settings and potential issues. There isn’t a lot of information here, so VisualWare’s Myspeed is recommended for more advanced users.
Another HTML5-based speed test, Bandwidth Place pushes aside anything that might get in the way of accurate results, and is lightweight enough to run on a large number of devices. The site has been around since 2002, but in early 2013 adopted the new HTML protocol to expand their compatibility and allow easy access from mobile devices. Server selection is either done by lowest available ping, or you can select specific locations and servers to see how your latency and speeds are affected by distance. In addition to offering Internet speed information, Bandwidth Place also has news about broadband services and offers for more comprehensive connectivity options.
While Ping Test isn’t the most full-featured Internet speed test, it is one of the most appealing from an aesthetics standpoint. Its colorful speedometers and flashy backdrop are flash-based, which may change the nature of the results though. Ping Test returns upload and download speeds after averaging out times from a handful of nearby servers that are automatically chosen. After you get your results, charts will show how your speeds compare to the average speeds of other types of connections, as well as estimated times for uploading and downloading files of various sizes. Ping-test also displays latency, but the number was much higher than the values we got using other tests, which may have to do with the way their server selection works (some tests that attempted to identify my location by IP were unable to do so correctly). If you’re in Europe or Asia, Ping Test offers a localized version, which may be just the trick for those outside North America.
Update 10-14-14: This article was originally published on Dec. 12, 2013 and has been updated for relevancy. Removed ISP-hosted tests and added TestMy.net and Bandwidth Place.