Is your ISP delivering the data speeds you were promised? Is there even a way to find out? Should you just take their word for it? The answer to these three questions respectively are “we’ll see,” “YEP!, ” and “HELL NO!”
One way to check in on your ISP’s performance is to head over to our Fastest ISPs feature, which rates the nation’s Internet on-ramps using data submitted by users. But you also have access to free tools that will clock your own personal connection.
One easy fast way is to use an Ookla speed test, which is available at speedtest.net. In fact, Ookla is the very service we use for our fastest ISP features (and which we should mention in the spirit of full disclosure was recently purchased by PCMag’s parent company).
The service works by measuring the time it takes for data to transfer between your computer and a remote server by way of your local ISP connection.
Once you click over to the site, Ookla determines your location and “teams” you up a local speedtest server to use in your test. All you have to do is click the “Begin Test” button. The whole process should take less than a minute to complete, and you can watch it unfold in real time.
After the test completes, you can view your connection’s upload and download speeds as measured in megabits per second (Mbps). You have the option to share the information via social media by clicking the big “share this result” button at the top. You may want to run the test a few times by clicking the “test again” button at the bottom of the screen—you will see fluctuations in the data speed from test to test depending on the network congestion at any given time.
Once you’ve run it a few times and want to put those numbers in context, just click the “My Results” link at the top of the page. Ookla will then visually plot out your various tests and compare them to the global average speeds. On the side, your best speed score will be awarded a letter grade, corresponding to the following scale (the percentage is how you compare to other Internet users on the national and global level):
A = 80-100%
B = 60-79%
C = 40-59%
D = 20-39%
F = 0-19%
So, if you get an 80 percent, that means 20 percent of Ookla speed test-takers were faster than you in your category (either national or international). Plus or minuses are given for the bottom or top 5 percent in each category. You can dig even further into the data via Ookla’s sister site, Netindex.com.
Don’t get screwed over by your ISP!