If you're experiencing slow internet speeds, run this test before calling your service provider and dealing with a potentially apoplectic situation. It will tell you the top speed you can get at your home with the service you currently have and can help you determine if it's your connection that's the problem or a particular device you're using to connect to the internet.
1. Use a computer (desktop or a laptop) that has a Gigabit network port. Not sure if yours has one? Here's how to find out. Note that you'll need a network cable to conduct this test
2. Make sure the test computer is the only one currently using the internet:
- If you have a modem and a router, unplug the router from the modem and using a network cable, plug the computer directly into the modem's network port.
- If you have a modem/router combo, make sure the computer you're testing with is the only one plugged into the device's LAN port. Also, you should disable Wi-Fi on the modem or router/modem, at least for the duration of the test. You can do this by logging into the device's web interface. Some devices have a hardware switch to turn off Wi-Fi, too.
3. Next, from the computer, go to speedtest.net and click "Begin Test." (Alternatively, you can also use other test services such as fast.com, speedof.me, or testmy.net.) I recommend running it a few times, and be sure to try out a few different servers (when aplicable) to connect to. Just make sure they're all actually near your home. The highest score you receive is what your real internet speed is.
Keep in mind however, that your broadband speed fluctuates all the time. This is because the test signal does not travel directly from the test server to your home; there are pit stops it makes along the way. Depending on where the signal stops, it can be slowed down a little or a lot. On top of that, at any given time a test server might be accessed by multiple users trying to do the same test. This may adversely affect your results as well.
Note that the speeds you get from the test are best-case scenario. When you do an actual internet-related task, such as streaming or surfing the web, the performance will also depend on the servers of all parties involved (your service provider, the service you're streaming from, etc.). These servers may or may not be capable of delivering your content as fast as your device is capable of receiving it.
To determine the internet speed of a particular device at any given time, just go to speedtest.net on your computer (with your normal home networking setup) or download and run the Speednet app on iOS or Android.