How Fast Is Your Internet?

August 27, 2010

Your Internet speed is measured in two ways. Download speed and upload speed. Download speed is how fast information travels from a computer on the internet down to your computer. Upload speed is how fast information can travel from your computer up to another computer on the internet.

Most things we do on the internet require a lot of download speed, but not much upload speed. Websurfing, for example, is mostly download speed. Receiving email is downloading. Sending email is uploading. If you share files and someone downloads a file from you, that’s uploading.

The download speed on your Internet connection is faster than your upload speed. I won’t get into the technical details as to why that is. That’s why it may seem fast when you are surfing the web, but when you send an email with a picture attached, it seems slow.

When you sign up for internet access from your phone company or cable company, they will have different packages you can get that offer different speeds. For example, you can get RoadRunner (from Time Warner Cable) in speeds of .768/.128 mbps, 1.5/.384 mbps, 7/.512 mbps, 15/.756 mbps, and 30/5 mbps. mbps stands for Million Bits Per Second. The first speed is the download speed and the speed after the slash is the upload speed.

What to know what speed you are really getting? Run a test. Just go to and run a test. It will tell you what your download and upload speeds are. When you run the test, make sure there is no internet activity on your computer or any other computer on your network or it can skew the test. Also be aware that the advertised speeds are maximum, not average speeds. You should also know that some advertise burst speeds. That means even though you are paying for a download speed of 7 mpbs, it there may be times when it will burst and go faster, depending on network traffic.

For example, here at Cyber Tek Computer Pros, I ran the test. We got a download speed of 14.5 mbps and an upload speed of 1.8 mbps. Our internet service is for 15 mbps download and .756. So the resulting download speed was pretty close to 15, but the upload speed was more than twice as fast as what is advertised thanks to a burst of speed.

By the way, if you run the test, be aware that it may show the results in kbps or mbps. Kbps is thousands and mbps is millions. I showed all of the numbers in this article in mbps. 1 mbps is faster than 512 kbps. 512 kbps is .512 mbps.

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