Most people like to think that they are getting what they pay for, but the truth is that sometimes you have to check. This is especially true if you ever change or upgrade your service. Human error is often one of the biggest reasons for a change not occurring for large companies and smaller companies believe can sometimes lower performance to save money. Checking with a third party site can help you know if you’re getting what you paid for.
Internet speed tests
Your internet speed is what will affect most of your internet experience. Most people purchase the slowest package to save money but then complain about pages loading slow as a problem with their ISP. Speedtest.net is an online internet speed testing tool that you can use to make sure you’re getting what you paid for. The first thing you need to do, however, is to physically connect your computer to your modem through a network cable. Then after doing that head to speedtest.net and follow the instructions. You get three numbers as a result of their testing. Your Ping, or the amount of time it takes for a message to between two computers making a round trip. This is typically measured in milliseconds (ms) and should be 100 or less if you live in a rural area. The next will be the download speed. This is the number you really want to look at. This represents how much data can be downloaded in a given second, and modern speeds can reach Mbps (or Megabits per second). This number can be confusing because most people don’t know the difference between bits and bytes. 1 megabit denotes 1,000,000 bits, and 1 megabyte denotes 1,000,000 bytes. It sounds like there is not much of a difference until you learn that there are 8 bits to every Byte. This makes MBps (Megabytes per second) 8 times faster than Mbps. The last number is your upload speed, and typically this number is the same as the download speed. However, companies like Comcast use a trick to increase download speeds, by reducing upload speeds. This is a benefit for most users, except for people trying to video chat or upload data.
If you have checked your bill and speedtest.net and found that you’re getting what you paid for, the next way your experience can be affected is network speed. For most people, this is not a problem. This is because most people hook a single computer up to their modem. However, when you add additional computers to your network it causes additional problems. Because your ISP provides the household with a set bandwidth, and every computer you add to that network has to share that speed. When only one person is on at a time it is not much of a problem, but the more users that log on the less bandwidth there is to go around. Though your speed problem could be a result of the hub or switch you are using to connect all the computers. Wireless connections are much slower than wired connections and could be a huge difference. This is why you should always make sure to physically connect your computer to your modem before testing.
The last part that could be affecting your speed is the ability of your device. Most people connecting in a home to the internet will be using a computer. This has a lot of parts that affect the speed. The network card, processor, video card, hard drive, and RAM can all affect speed, depending on what you are doing. Testing your system with software like UserBenchmark can help you discover what parts of your computer are slowing you down. As stated above a wireless card could be the reason you’re not seeing the speeds you paid for.
Knowledge is power
Knowing where the problem with your connection means that you can’t be given the runaround, and can save you money. If you call your ISP and they run all the tests, they could say your modem is the problem. If the modem is the problem then that is the solution, but if the problem is with a different component than you could run into a problem with the new modem and have wasted time and money on the modem as the problem will still persist, even if you switch your ISP.