Sunday, June 8, 2008

How to test your internet connection?

Internet Speed Testing

These sites are used to test your internet connection. Have a fast computer, but its slow on the internet? Do you have a cable modem or DSL line and want to see if its the connection or your computer? Armed with the information from these next few sites, you will be able to tell if its the connection or not and be well prepared if you need to call your service provider for technical support, or your friendly neighborhood Macintosh technician :-)

The first site in this category is Speedtest DOT net. Speedtest is is the first test I usually run. Its layout is pretty simple and self explanatory.

When it loads you will see a map of the US, with small green triangles placed around in various locations. These are the Speedtest servers. You will want to click the yellow triangle. Its the one Speedtest has detected as being closest to your city. One click and the test is off and running. This site will display your upload and download speeds, your ping (Time to the server and back) and your IP address. Write these numbers down. In general, cable modem and DSL speeds should be a small number. ( Smaller the better, mine is currently 26ms ) Whereas the bigger the better is the rule for upload and download speeds. I currently subscribe to the highest and fastest tier my cable company provides. My current upload is 13520kbs (13MB per sec) and upload of 1631kbs (1.6 MB per sec). Slowest cable modem connections should still be in the 4MB range for downloads and uploads of 500kbs at least.

Next site in this list is Speakeasy - speedtest. This is very similar to Speedtest in that your going to be testing the same measurements (Upload, Download and Ping) however, its is more of a visual test. Let me explain.

When you click on the server you want to test from, using the menu in the middle of the page, the test will start. As the test runs you will see a little ball travel along a line, depicting the progress of the tests. This ball movement is whats important and what we want to watch. Does the ball travel this line smoothly, or does it jump, jerk and pause as it travels the line? A smooth transition is what we want to see. If the ball is jerky, jumpy or pauses alot then thats an indication of heavy packet loss. Not a good thing. Packet loss can be indicitive of many things, from a faulty network interface on the computer to a bad ethernet cable, or even a failing componet on the network like a router, switch or cable modem. It may also be a problem on the service providers network. If you see indications of possible packet loss on this test, then you should definatly check out the next site.

The last site in this category is Test My VOIP. VOIP stands for Voice over IP. It is related to the process of using your internet connection for making phone calls. Its used in things like Vonage Phone Service and Skype

Test My VOIP is the perfect tool for measuring that packet loss I was talking about. When the page loads, choose the the server closest to you. For the US visitors the best server will be San Jose.

NOTE - Before the test will actually run, you should get a popup about a certificate. Click the trust button. I have used this site for years and its always been the same. You can trust their certificate.

The test takes about 15-20 seconds to run. Once it is done, you will then be presented the results. below is a screenshot of my results just now. For cable modems and DSL lines, your results should be rated at 3-3.5 or higher.

Next you want to click the "Detailed Results" button. The next screen thats going to load will get down to the nitty gritty numbers of those tests. With beautifull graphs and test result numbers we will want to write down. You will be able to see the results of both tests run. One from you to the server, and one from the server back. On both of these tests. The results we want to notate are the packet loss percentage and the type of packet loss (Burst or Random)

With this information in hand, you will be well armed when you call your service provider or Macintosh technician for assistance.