Internet speed test: all you need to know

A speed test for the internet can be used to assess the speed, efficiency and quality of your link. There are thousands of websites that conduct speed tests, but they all perform the same basic functions. To get the most accurate results, multiple tests are run concurrently to analyse different aspects of the internet connection. 

The three most commonly examined metrics during a speed test are upload speed, download speed and ping. Jitter is another factor that some tests may take into consideration. The essence of each test is highlighted below:

How an internet speed test works

Download speed

download speed in a speed test

This is the speed at which your device can receive data from the internet, denoted in units of data, usually Megabits, per second. The download speed is carried out by opening several connections to a server and simultaneously beginning to download a large data file through all of these connections. This method ensures that the entire bandwidth of the internet link is used, allowing for the optimal data throughput to be calculated.

Upload speed 

This is the speed at which your device can send data to the internet, also denoted in units of data per second. The upload speed is measured by reversing the download analysis chain. Multiple connections to the test server are established once more. However, instead of uploading a file, the computer creates a large packet of random data and sends it through all open connections to the server. 


A ping (or latency) test measures the time it takes for a signal to travel from the device to a server or vice versa. This is the amount of time it takes for a packet of data to complete its journey through the network. During the ping test, the system sends a small amount of data to the test server via the network. When the server receives this data, it returns it to the device, thereby completing a roundtrip. 


jitter metric in a speed test

The difference in latency caused by data transmission delays is called jitter. The more jitter there is, the longer it takes for a data packet to arrive at its destination. Jitter can be used as a strong indicator of the audio and video data quality that can be transferred through the network, so if your jitter result is poor, you can expect a low quality in video and audio transmissions.

The total quality and usability of your internet connection are determined by these metrics.  If you are experiencing a slow connection or link overloads, try to find a better service provider in order to gain access to a faster and more reliable internet connection.


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Written by Kate Hawthorne

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