Skip to main content

If you suspect your Netflix is dragging, here’s how to test and find out

If you’ve ever suspected your Netflix streaming speed to perform at less-than-ideal levels, then you’re in good company. Our own investigations have shown it isn’t always possible to stream Netflix in all its HD glory, no matter how quick your Internet service provider (ISP) claims your service is. For its part, Netflix is constantly trying to bring customers the fastest streaming speeds possible, but the company doesn’t have complete control over the clamps imposed by third party content delivery networks, your own home network’s setup, and especially ISPs. Recently, Verizon even tried to claim Netflix is to blame due to its poor infrastructure, though the past few weeks have proved otherwise. Either way, hearing your ISP is slowing your streaming speed is a drag, especially when you intended to binge watch the entire second season of Orange is the New Black this weekend.

Lucky for you, there are a few options that can give you concrete evidence as to what quality your Netflix picture quality is — no more guessing! Not only does Netflix provide useful resources for its customers, but there are some other methods to get a read on your Netflix speed. Here’s how you do it:

Related Videos

Related stories:

How to use Netflix’s bitrate and resolution test

The quickest and easiest gauge of Netflix streaming speed and resolution is a test clip that Netflix itself makes available. This short reel allows you to test your streaming speeds using actual content. As the clip runs, it displays your bitrate and the resulting video resolution in the corner of your screen. To run the test, navigate to a search box and enter, “Example Short 23.976.” Afterward, click the blue Play button directly right of the first result and view your streaming information in the corner as the 11-minute montage of video footage plays in the background. The streaming information updates in real time, but don’t fret if the numbers start out low — they’ll likely increase as the video buffers. Also, expect a barrage of tranquil waterfalls, blinking circles, a sunset time lapse, and a random guy juggling soccer balls.

Testing Netflix with a short film example

Once the numbers stay consistent and stop fluctuating, you’ll have a solid idea of your streaming speeds, which you can then compare to the reported speed of your ISP in Netflixs speed index, which we cover below. Don’t be surprised to see your results vary depending on time of day. Often, streaming speeds will slow during peak viewing hours.

Estimating your Netflix streaming speed via Netflix’s ISP Speed Index

Netflix’s handy speed index doesn’t provide you with a read-out of your particular streaming speed, but it does give you a comprehensive overview of which providers currently offer the quickest — and slowest — streaming speeds around the globe. Once on the informative site, you can peruse ISP rankings for your respective country as either a list or basic line graph, allowing you to compare the average streaming speeds among the top 60 ISPs, and see the the type of technology each is using (DSL, fiber, cable, etc.). Moreover, you can see the ranking for a particular date when viewing the results as a graph, or simply click the View Full Results button on the right-hand side of the page to expand the rankings. Below is a screenshot detailing U.S. streaming rankings for the month of June 2014.

ISP Speed Index

Extra resources

Sure, Netlix’s test clip tells you exactly what speed and resolution you are getting … while you’re playing that clip. But what if you want to know what your speed and resolution is while watching something else on Netflix? In many cases, your smart TV or Blu-ray player might be able to tell you. If your device has an “info” or “display” button on it, try pressing that to see what pops up. In most cases, the device will show you at least what resolution you’re getting. If you’ve got a Samsung or Sony smart TV or Blu-ray player, or one of Oppo’s players, you have this ability.

The website Bandwidth Place also provides a helpful Internet speed test for users of any ISP, allowing you to view various statistics regarding your download speed, upload speed, IP address, and your Internet service provider. We also recommend

Editors' Recommendations

Tidal gives beta testers a live DJ feature
Close-up image of the Tidal DJ feature.

Tidal, the high-resolution music streaming service, announced today that it's inviting members of its Early Access beta testing program to try out a new feature, dubbed "DJ", that will allow them to share playlists, albums, and tracks with other Tidal members, live, at the same time, no matter where they are.

While limited details of the DJ feature are available, a press release from Tidal says that U.S. subscribers to its HiFi Plus plan that are also enrolled in the Early Access Program can gain access to a beta build of the Tidal app that includes the new capability. These users can then create and name playlists (using text and emojis) for a "session" -- be it for a road trip, workout, or party warm-up -- to be shared with other Tidal users to listen in, live. Full albums and songs can also be shared, and it appears that listening to the DJ session is open to all Tidal members through the iOS and Android apps, while creating the sessions is currently limited to those on the HiFi Plus tier with the beta app, which is for iOS only at the moment.

Read more
Best streaming devices for 2023: Apple TV, Roku, and more
Apple TV 4K.

There now are so many ways for you to get all the shows and movies you want on all your favorite streaming services, be it Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+. But the most popular choice by far is still a streaming device, such as a set-top box or streaming stick that you connect to your TV with a simple but effective HDMI input.

But the major players in the streaming device game — Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Google TV, Roku — are all fighting for your money, so we're here to make sure you throw it at the right streaming device for you and your budget, which typically ranges from as low as $30 to as high as $200.

Read more
Spotify Wrapped 2022: what it is and how to view it
Spotify Wrapped 2022.

For loads of music lovers, the beginning of December is a special time of year when Spotify drops its annual Spotify Wrapped list, a data-derived deep dive into -- for better or worse -- all the good, bad, and embarrassing music we've been cranking into our earholes for the past year. If you're a Spotify devotee, you've likely already gotten their teaser email about this year's list, which usually lands at the end of November or in the first week of December. But if you haven't, no worries, we've got all the details here.
Further reading

Spotify Wrapped 2022 is here: What's your 'listening personality'?
What is Spotify: music, pricing, and features explained
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which music streamer is the best?
Instafest: How to make your own Spotify festival lineup

Read more