Published on September 21st, 2023
The importance of internet speed has never been more pronounced in today’s digital landscape.
Our entertainment experiences are increasingly dominated by large files, such as video games that consume extensive gigabytes and high-definition 4K movies.
The demand for ultra-fast home internet has become a universal expectation. To exemplify this, consider Sony’s release of the PlayStation 5 in November 2020, which featured two models, with one relying entirely on downloading games from the internet.
Furthermore, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant shift towards remote work, often involving collaborative efforts on substantial files like video editing in the cloud.
However, the internet speed that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) advertises may not always align with the actual speed you experience. This discrepancy isn’t necessarily the fault of the ISP.
Factors like the compatibility of third-party routers with ISP equipment, outdated hardware, and device limitations, such as computers, phones, and game consoles, can all contribute to this variation.
So, how can you ensure that you’re receiving the service you’re paying for? This is where speed test websites and applications come into play.
Yet, not all speed test tools are created equal. So, how do you determine which one will provide the most accurate results for your specific needs?
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Another prominent brand offering its own speed test service is Netflix, the creator of Fast.com.
Netflix has always been dedicated to ensuring that its customers enjoy the highest possible internet speeds for optimal video quality.
In pursuit of this goal, Netflix introduced its own content distribution network, Netflix Open Connect, back in 2012.
This innovative approach allowed ISPs to host a substantial portion of the Netflix catalog within their data centers, reducing the distance data needed to travel over the internet and thus enhancing the quality of Netflix service for their users.
Continuing its commitment to delivering top-tier streaming video experiences, Netflix unveiled Fast.com in 2016.
This platform was conceived as an extension of the ISP speed index, which Netflix initiated in 2011 to encourage transparency among ISPs regarding the responsibility for any declines in Netflix service quality.
Fast.com boasts a user-friendly interface that is both swift and lightweight, consistently delivering dependable results.
While it places a primary emphasis on download speed, users can also assess latency and upload speed by clicking on “Show more info.”
Furthermore, the settings menu provides options to adjust the test duration, the number of simultaneous connections, and includes a checkbox for “Always show all metrics,” allowing users to save their configuration preferences for future test sessions.
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When it comes to renowned names in internet speed testing, Ookla stands out as the company behind Speedtest.net and the Speedtest app.
Regardless of the label you use, Ookla has been delivering dependable speed tests for many years.
In fact, Ookla Speedtest is so highly trusted that it often serves as the foundation for numerous other branded speed tests.
You can even spot the familiar Speedtest logo when visiting the Google Fiber speed test page.
In addition to its long-standing reputation for reliability and accuracy, Ookla offers several supplementary features.
One noteworthy aspect is its provision of standalone apps, a choice explained on its website as being more dependable than the web version.
This is because web browsers introduce various additional variables, such as any installed extensions. Moreover, Ookla allows you to maintain a record of your speed test history if you have a user account.
Unlike some of its competitors, Ookla also grants you the liberty to select the test server if you’re dissatisfied with the automated selection.
Within Ookla’s mobile app for both iOS and Android, it provides a specialized speed test tailored to video performance.
Although this video test is exclusively accessible on iOS and Android platforms, it assesses your phone’s ability to handle videos of varying resolutions, offering insights into the highest quality video streaming achievable on your connection.
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It’s not always about flashy features and complexities. One speed test stands out for its simplicity and user-friendliness, catering to those who may not be tech-savvy, and that’s SpeedSmart.
This test offers the fundamental metrics – download, upload, ping, and jitter – without the added intricacies that Cloudflare provides.
It consistently delivers precise results, but what truly sets SpeedSmart apart is its exceptional user interface and its ability to contextualize the information.
Upon completing the test, clicking on each metric provides a clear explanation of the testing process and the meaning of each metric.
While many other tests might inform you of your connection’s jitter, SpeedSmart goes a step further by explaining what jitter itself is during the test.
In SpeedSmart’s own words: “Jitter is the variation in response times. A good connection will have a reliable and consistent response time, which is represented as a lower jitter score. Less than 2 ms is perfect.”
Moreover, SpeedSmart allows you to maintain a history of your test results, not only displaying individual test outcomes but also calculating averages and offering the option to export them as a CSV file.
The SpeedSmart website includes a “metrics” tab, enabling you to view how the day’s users have collectively performed and compare different countries’ speed test results.
Overall, when it comes to presenting the numbers in an easily understandable context, SpeedSmart stands as the top choice among speed tests.
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If the name Cloudflare rings a bell, it’s likely due to the error messages you encounter when certain websites using their services experience downtime.
Similar to Netflix Open Connect, Cloudflare strategically positions duplicates of its clients’ websites at data centers worldwide to ensure swift access and protect against distributed denial of service attacks. Additionally, Cloudflare offers its own web-based speed test.
What sets Cloudflare’s speed test apart is the exceptional level of detail it offers to users both during and after the test. Unlike waiting until the test concludes, you can monitor all testing metrics in real-time.
Beyond the standard measurements of download speed, upload speed, ping/latency time, jitter level, and packet loss percentage, Cloudflare’s speed test allows you to delve deeper into each aspect, offering a highly granular examination.
You can assess your connection’s performance at every stage of the testing process, including unloaded latency, latency during download and upload, as well as download and upload tests with file sizes ranging from 100kB to 100 MB.
Furthermore, Cloudflare’s speed test includes the customary Twitter and Facebook sharing options but adds a unique feature: the ability to export test results as a CSV file, which can be imported into any spreadsheet application.
If you’re eager to dive into the nitty-gritty details of your speed test, Cloudflare’s test is tailor-made for you.
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Verizon Speed Test
This particular speed test is exclusively applicable to Verizon Fios subscribers but stands out enough to warrant inclusion here.
Verizon offers its own web-based speed test, and what sets it apart from the rest is its ability to measure more than just the download/upload speeds and ping time on the device you run it on.
Verizon’s speed test includes a unique feature: it measures the speeds between its test site and your router.
This functionality allows you to use Verizon’s speed test to diagnose whether a specific device is experiencing subpar throughput or if there’s an issue with your home’s overall connection.
Historically, the Verizon speed test has received mixed reviews, with inaccuracies and inconsistencies often cited as its primary drawbacks.
However, during testing for this article, it consistently registered speeds within the range of other reputable tests.
There appears to be a reason for this improvement. While it’s unclear when this change occurred, a February 2023 Lifewire article suggests that the Verizon speed test is now built on top of Ookla’s Speedtest platform, shedding light on its enhanced performance.
Feature Image Source: Frederik Lipfert