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Tips for Yielding an Accurate Speed Test

Internet speed tests are useful tools that allow users to check their Internet speed. In this month’s Tech Talk, GRM Networks’ Internet Technician Steve Habben, provides tips to accurately run a speed test.

“Internet speed can affect everyone in the household as more devices are connected using Internet bandwidth,” said Habben. “This is especially true right now as more people and students are working from home.”

Achieving Accurate Test Results
Habben notes common mistakes made when performing a speed test include administering the test while on a wireless connection and running the test on a device ill equipped. “Speed tests should be conducted on computers connected to the Internet using an Ethernet cable,” says Habben. “Performing a speed test using a wireless connection will not yield accurate results because the full bandwidth rate will not be achieved. This gives a false reading and isn’t a good basis to determine if your Internet is slow.”

Speed tests are dependent upon the computer’s performance ability along with the user’s bandwidth package meaning the Internet speed to which the user is subscribed. “Make sure your device has the capabilities of running a speed test at higher speeds especially 200 megabits per second (Mbps) to 1000 Mbps,” says Habben. “If your device is limited to 100 Mbps and under, you may only have a 100 Mbps Ethernet port in your computer. To test higher Internet speeds, such as 500 Mbps or higher, more memory and a faster CPU (central processing unit) might be needed.”

“Another way to know the capabilities of your system is by looking at the colors of the Ethernet ports on your Internet modem,” says Habben. “An orange light on the port means that the modem is capable of transferring data at 100 Mbps and a green light on the port means the modem is capable of transferring data up to 1000 Mbps or 1 Gig.” Habben says it is also important to know to which wireless connection the device is connected. “Is it a 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-Fi network?” he said.

Speed tests should also be run in the user’s own network. “Above all,” says Habben, “You must test in your own network as some test sites will not yield accurate tests or responses.” He recommends using http://speedtest.net as this site allows users to select an in-network server. (This link is also found on the GRM Networks website at https://www2.grm.net/internet/speed-test/.)

“Customers subscribing to our Internet service should test using ‘GRM Networks Princeton’ or ‘GRM Networks Leon’,” says Habben. “Anything outside our network will not count as an accurate speed test as we cannot control what bandwidth does once it leaves our network.” He also says when testing make sure no devices are using bandwidth. “You do not want to test while streaming video, downloading files, or during on line gaming as your speed test will only test what bandwidth may be left,” says Habben.

When running a speed test and using a wireless connection versus an Ethernet connection, another factor to consider is the device’s link rate. Link rates are different for each device. “Link rate is the maximum speed that your device communicates with the device to which it is linked such as the wireless router or modem,” says Habben. Link rates are influenced by the strength of the Wi-Fi signal, the amount of Wi-Fi interference coming from other devices that transmit or receive wireless signals (garage door openers or wireless speakers), and the bandwidth being used by other wireless devices.

“Speed testing on a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network could yield a result of anywhere from 3 Mbps up to 40 Mbps at best. Testing on a 5GHz Wi-Fi Network could result in 50 Mbps to 375 Mbps,” says Habben, emphasizing that these numbers are only an example of an average range and do not mean customers will yield the same results. “These numbers are impacted by the link rate and do not accurately reflect the speeds,” he says.

Habben recommends the following links as resources for performing speed tests. He suggests https://www.speedtest.net/apps/windows for windows based operating systems and https://www.speedtest.net/apps/mac for Macintosh based operating systems. To download this address on a mobile device select ‘Speedtest by Ookla’ from the devices app store. “Downloading an app onto your device is better than using web sites to run speed tests,” says Habben. “Web sites usually have programs running in the back ground.”