How to test your broadband speed
For the best results always make sure that you aren't using your internet connection for anything else (like downloading email or watching videos) when doing a test. Be sure to test at different times of day to get a true picture of your speeds.
How does your broadband speed test work?
Our speedtest works by timing how long it takes your connection to download a file of known size from one of our speedtest servers.
The test first sends a small file to see how long this takes to download to get a quick estimate and then chooses a larger file for the main test depending on the initial estimate.
Faster connections need larger test files to get accurate results.
We also test the ping of your connection, this is the round trip time taken for packets of data to be sent to and from your broadband connection. The smaller the ping the faster the response time.
For best results make sure that no one else is using your connection when you run the test and that you are not using your broadband for any bandwidth heavy uses (such as video streaming).
Why is my broadband so slow?
Your broadband could be slow for a number of reasons:
- Due to technical constraints, such as being a long way from your exchange if you are on an ADSL connection.
- Network congestion at your broadband provider, they have more customers online at one time than their network can easily handle. This will be especially obvious at peak times of day.
- If you are using mobile broadband then if there are many other users on the same network in your locality can swamp a cell tower.
- If you share a connection with many other people (such as a family sharing a connection) then this can slow each individual connection.
- If you are using wifi and have a poor connection to your router (such as being a long way from the router).
- Have you exceeded your download allowance? If you have a capped download allowance then when you hit the cap your provider will reduce your maximum download speed considerably.
How can I speed up my broadband?
There are a number of ways you can speed up your broadband:
- Switch to a better technology if you can, such as moving from an ADSL connection to a fibre optic connection.
- Make sure your router is properly configured and if necessary add wireless boosters to your network to improve the wifi in your house.
- Make sure that any computers connected to your broadband connection have their anti-virus software up to date.
- Password protect your wireless network to make sure no neighbours are connecting to your network and using your bandwidth.
- Purchase additional download allowance if you have hit your monthly limit.
- Try a wired ethernet connection to your router if you can rather than using wireless.
- Update your web browser to the latest version, also keep your operating system up to date as a slow computer can make your broadband connection seem slow even though really it’s a slow computer.
- Watch out for electrical interference, things like cheap flashing fairy lights can in some cases cause havoc with your connection!
How do I get faster broadband?
If you’ve tried all the tips above then sometimes the simplest next step is to upgrade your broadband to a new connection with a new supplier.
This works best if you are upgrading to a superior technology such as fibre optic, or if you are getting a better default download speed and download allowance.
How do I get accurate results?
To get the most accurate results follow this process:
- Ensure you are the only person using your connection.
- Use a wired connection, or if this is not possible then be sure to be as close to your wireless router as you can.
- Do the test multiple times.
- Do the test at different times of day to see if there are only problems at certain times.
How do I complain about broadband speeds?
Sometimes you need to complain to get better speeds. Follow this process to get the best chance of your provider listening to you:
- Do multiple tests and different times of day for a few days and make a record of your results so you can share this information with your provider when you contact them.
- Make sure you have followed the tips above for getting the most accurate speed test results.
- Follow the guidance for sorting basic problems above so as to rule out the problem at your end.
- Always keep a record of every time you contact your supplier to complain and any actions they promise they will make.
- Be polite with the person you deal with, you may be frustrated at slow speeds but it’s not the customer service agents fault personally if your speeds are slow.