Decoding your internet speed test results: what do they mean?

Fezile Biyela
Internet Provider Comparisons

Picture this: right when the villain in your favorite TV show is about to get busted, the buffering sign appears, and from the edge of your seat, you scoot right back. A disappointing internet speed dampens the excitement that has been building up. And once again, you’re frustrated with your internet.

This is, unfortunately, the reality of many internet users, and it can have a far-reaching impact on daily activities, like watching your favorite show, working from home, or even keeping up with your security tech around your home. It can be frustrating. Very frustrating. But how do you curb this? By understanding your internet speed, finding ways to improve it and knowing when it’s time for an upgrade.  

This blog post will discuss what a good, bad, and normal internet speed test result means. We will also explain the fastest internet speed test result and give you tips for improving internet speed.

What is a good internet speed test result?

This is a loaded question. Mainly because there is no one-size-fits-all answer to it; it entirely depends on your needs, lifestyle and internet usage. Because what may work for one person might not work for the next.  

If we look at the textbook definition of a good internet speed, it is defined as a speed that allows you to perform your online activities without interruption. Of course, you’ll still need to factor in other things that may affect your internet speed, like the number of devices connected to the internet, the type of online activity, and the speed of your internet plan.

For everyday online activities, the recommended internet speed is:

  • 3 Mbps for streaming standard-definition videos
  • 5 Mbps for streaming high-definition videos
  • 25 Mbps for streaming 4K videos
  • 1 Mbps for browsing the internet
  • 5-10 Mbps for online gaming

As you can see, the more data-demanding the activity is, the higher the number for your recommended internet speed. Understanding your internet speed test results can help you diagnose issues and improve your internet speed. We’ll get into the finer details of how a bit later in the blog.  

What is a bad internet speed test result?

On the other hand, you can have a bad internet speed test result. It’s the opposite of a good one and is defined as a speed that is too slow for your online activities. Unfortunately, this isn’t as rare as it could be.  

Many factors come into play when looking at an internet speed test result, including the number of devices connected to the internet, the type of online activity, and the speed of your internet plan.  

What does having a bad internet speed test result look like? Super slow downloads, buffering videos, and poor-quality video and audio during video calls. None of which are what you want to get out of your internet experience. So, what exactly can this help you do? Identify internet issues, like not being on the correct internet plan for your needs and investigate ways to improve your internet speed. And trust, they exist, and they are many.

What is a normal internet speed test result?

Finally, a normal internet speed test result. It’s slapdash in the middle of a good and bad internet speed test result. It’s one where the speed you have is good enough/sufficient for your online activities. It works for you, and you don’t have any problems with it. You’re neither getting a bad experience nor a particularly great one. The beauty of this normal one is that it works; the danger of it is that it’s reliant on your internet activity staying as it is now to not go from normal to bad.

What is the fastest internet speed test result?

Most of the time, if not always, an internet service provider will advertise the maximum speed you can get on an internet plan. It means if you’re at the perfect location, with the right number of internet-connected devices and your router is placed in a central area, you’ll achieve the highest speed achievable on that internet plan. Basically, I got an A+ for the internet.  

If you’re among the few that get to the maximum speed, you’ll enjoy faster downloads than most, smoother streaming, and the best quality video and audio calls your internet plan can provide.  

Ultimately, the importance of fast internet speed has to do with having the freedom to perform all your internet activities without interruption.

Words you’ll see on your internet speed test results and what they mean

Internet speed test results use terms such as download speed, upload speed, ping, and jitter. How do you interpret this and break down the lingo to make sense to you?  

Download speed

Is the speed at which your device receives data from the internet, while upload speed is the speed at which your device sends data to the internet. Remember,  the internet is a two-way street. You could be on the receiving end of this, like when you’re streaming a movie. Or sending something to the internet, like uploading a picture on Facebook. The higher these numbers, the better your internet connection.

Ping (or latency)

Is the time it takes for your device to send a request to a website and receive a response. Think of a ping-pong match where you hit a ball, and it goes to the other player then back to you. How fast it takes for your device to transmit data to an internet server and back again. Ideally, you want your ping to be super low to avoid having a laggy experience.  

Then there’s jitter

It is the variation in ping time. It’s the different intervals and set amount of time it takes for data packets to be sent and received across the internet from your computer. You want the jitter number to the as low as possible. Limbo game low.

How to improve your internet speed test result

Let’s say you’ve run a speed test and you’re not happy with the results you received. The numbers aren’t adding up, or are too low – what are the next steps?

Well, for one, these tips will help you improve your internet speed if the reason for its slowness is because of them. You could try:

  • Disconnecting devices, you’re not using
  • Clearing your cache and cookies
  • Updating software on your router
  • Updating your hardware if it’s outdating
  • Using an ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi

You also try troubleshooting your internet speed by restarting, rebooting or resetting your modem and router. Or checking for firmware updates to ensure your equipment is up to date. After trying all these steps, your slow internet speed persists, contact your internet service provider for professional help.

The perfect internet connection awaits…

Remember, a good internet speed depends entirely on your needs and lifestyle. So, finding out which is good, bad or normal internet speed will be based on many personal factors, including how many devices are connected to your network, your area and your internet server. An internet speed test will help you determine where you fall and whether you’re getting the right internet speed for what you require the internet for. Don’t be afraid to perform one. It’s a) free, and b) we’ve broken up the lingo so you can understand your test results better – come back to this blog if you find yourself stuck or unsure what they mean.

There are also ways you can boost your internet speeds. And we’ve briefly touched on them. If you try all the steps mentioned and find that your internet is still not as good as you’d like it to be, it might be time to switch internet service providers or upgrade your internet package. Thankfully, we specialize in that.

HomeLinkd is here to help you search and find the best deals on internet, TV and home security in your area. You can browse by provider, internet type or your location. You'll be spoilt for choice with many reputable internet service providers across the U.S! Have a look at our website and get connected today.  

Written by:
Fezile Biyela
Digital Writer

Hi, I’m Fez. A chai-drinking, worship-singing, and words-loving copywriter. I’m a digital native obsessed with staying connected with the world around me. That’s why you’re seeing me here – helping you stay connected. Happy reading!

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