How to check your internet speed: A step-by-step guide

Fezile Biyela
Internet Provider Comparisons

There comes a point in every internet user's online experience where they wonder how fast (or slow their internet speed is). Whether the question arises mid-streaming of their favorite show, right when they're about to turn on their mic in a virtual meeting or just when they've reached a new level of online gaming – it tends to hit at the worst time.   

But being prepared by a) having a reliable internet connection, and b) knowing your internet speed is sufficient for your needs, can minimize the chances of this happening.

In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through how to check your internet speed using HomeLinkd's internet speed test service and why you want to. The answer may surprise you.

What is internet speed?

The first and most obvious question is, what is internet speed? In short, it's the rate at which data is transferred from the internet to your device. Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and affects your ability to browse the internet, stream videos, and download files. 

If we were to put this in the context of cars, it would be how fast your car can go at a time which ultimately affects how fast you get to where you're going.

Many factors play into internet speed, including your internet connection type, network congestion, and the number of devices connected to the network.

Some internet connections are faster than others. For example, fiber is generally faster than satellite. In the same breath, it's highly dependent on your location, as your internet connection is too.

Just like during rush hour when there are a lot of cars on the road and traffic tends to move slower, network congestion happens when everyone uses the internet simultaneously. The network is stretched, and this limits how fast your internet speed is. It strains your bandwidth, and the struggle to keep up kicks in. Network congestion can be from your home network, for instance, having multiple people using the internet for intense online activities such as gaming or streaming. And it can also come in the form of a wide area network (WAN) which is a larger-scale problem of having too many people in a single area using the internet. While this problem is not as prevalent anymore (thankfully), it can cause periodic slowdowns.

How to test your internet speed

It's easier than it may sound. With many handy tools already existing to help you check and understand your internet speed, you could be done before your 2-minute timer to brush your teeth goes off. 

Testing your internet speed is quick and easy. Generally, the experience will look something like these simple steps:

  1. You look up "internet speed test" on your browser.
  1. Multiple results appear, and you choose whichever one you like, trust or see first.
  1. Some may have tabs you can choose from. Click on the "Internet Speed Test" tab if there is one.
  1. Most will have either a "Go" or "Start" button. Click on it when you're ready to start the test.
  1. Wait for the test to complete. It will only take a few minutes. Some, even seconds.
  1. Once complete, you'll have your results ready to review.

Understanding your internet speed test results

After the test is complete, you'll see a series of numbers indicating your internet speed. You don't have to get panicked by the technical lingo and terms you see. They are an indication of how fast or slow your internet speeds are. 

The download speed represents how quickly your device can retrieve data from the internet, while the upload speed refers to how fast your device can send data to the internet. The ping time is the time it takes for data to travel from your device to the server and back. The higher the numbers for your ping, the slower your internet speed is.

Troubleshooting slow internet speed

If your internet speed is slower than expected, there are a few things you can do to improve it. 

Check for updates

First, check to see if any updates are available for your modem or router. Sometimes, outdated firmware can cause your internet to slow down or even lag. Just as an outdated device would. Your first step should be to check if your device has any new fixes. You can usually find a link to your device's site on the bottom or side of the modem or router.

Reboot your equipment

You can also try resetting or rebooting your modem or router. Sometimes it's as simple as turning it off and back on again. Another option is to move your device to a central location in the house or business. The range between your router and internet-connected devices can heavily impact the speed and quality. The closer you are to the router, the better your connection.

Additionally, limit the number of devices connected to your network at a time or disconnect devices that aren't using the internet.

Upgrade your internet plan

If you've taken these steps and are still unsatisfied with the results, consider upgrading your internet service. Sometimes, the internet package that once worked for you no longer does. This could be for a number of reasons from having more devices connected, to changing up what you used to use the internet for. In essence, your current internet plan might not be able to keep up with your current internet needs.  

Don't fret. Upgrading to a faster internet plan doesn't have to be time-consuming, stressful or expensive. HomeLinkd can help you find and compare internet service providers in your area to find the best deals for faster internet speeds. This can help improve your life big time because not only will you be able to do more online, but you'll be able to do it faster. Isn't that what we all want? 

Why you should check your internet speed

What you don't know can hurt you. Checking your internet speed regularly can help you identify issues with your internet service and troubleshoot them before they become major problems, for instance, the unfortunate scenarios you pictured earlier. And sometimes, the worst things can happen at the worst time. 

Not only that, but you also want to make sure you're getting the internet speeds you're paying for. It can also help you decide whether or not you need to upgrade your service for better speeds.

We mentioned earlier how a fast internet connection can improve your life. And it reaches beyond your browsing experience. With the rise of smart home technology, many devices such as security cameras and video doorbells require a fast internet speed to function properly and be up to the second. A fast internet speed can protect your home and family with the latest security tech. 

Get connected fast with HomeLinkd

Checking your internet speed is an essential first step in ensuring your internet is performing at its best. It can help you identify whether you're getting the speeds you opted in for or need to bump up your internet package.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can easily test your internet speed and find out where you stand when it comes to internet connection. We've also equipped you with troubleshooting steps to improve your internet speed.

If your internet speed needs to be better with your internet needs or expectations, HomeLinkd is here to make the switch to a different internet service provider or the upgrade to a higher internet plan way easier. Cut out complicated, find the best deals on internet, TV and home security in your area with HomeLinkd.

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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