Measure Your Connection Speed with YourSpeed
Don Bradbury runs an Internet connection through the YourSpeed website
Coming to grips with measuring the speed of an Internet connection is not just for the curious; it's a real-life indicator of the efficiency of your setup, be it Dial-up or Broadband. Time spent surfing is your time, after all, so it needs to be as fast as possible. Waiting time is wasted time.
One of the better web sites offering to quantify your connectivity is Numion.com's YourSpeed, currently in version 3.7, and found at www.numion.com/YourSpeed3/
It can give you an excellent impression of your connection efficiency, both graphically and textually, but there's also useful explanation of the test results available on the site where you can compare yours with others and see how your connection stacks up.
After the test, which takes just a minute or so to complete, depending on your particular connection, a table summarises the results in text form. Download and upload speeds are recorded in both kilobits/sec and kilobytes/sec. Your surfspeed inside the UK and worldwide is also tabled after reference to performance over a broad range of test websites, as is the latency. This latter is the time between sending a request for data and receiving the first part of the reply. The lower the latency, the faster you can do things on the Internet, other things being equal.
Also of interest are the graphical representations, where performance regularity is assessed. As the site explains, this measurement looks at how smoothly your connection transports the data. A high-quality connection has a high regularity. If there are pauses, glitches, hiccups and other noise, then the regularity is lower. Regularity is determined by calculating the closest-fit determination coefficient (also known as "R-squared"), a number that shows how much the calculated line deviates from the individual points. Suffice to say, just look for an 'excellent' rating if you have a good connection.
A Speedbar also illustrates your download speed and upload speed relative to typical UK and worldwide figures.
The links on this test results page give you access to an explanation of the results your connection showed, the measurements that were taken, greater detail of the results, plus sundry other sections of interest including the option to look up an FAQ page if you're still in doubt as to the meaning of the results.
The graphic showing 'SurfSpeed of the Internet' for a give country (in this case the UK) may be of special interest. It compares your particular connection speeds with those typically experienced. While the bits/sec vertical axis is awkwardly logarithmic, that's a necessity in order to expand the scale for ease of viewing and comparison.
While you may think that there's little point in this as your connection speed will be determined by your ISP and the distance you are from the local telephone exchange, as well as the load on the Internet when you use it, not to mention your computer's characteristics and so on, any changes you do make to improve connectivity should really be quantified, and there's really only one accurate way to do that and that's to expose your setup to a test website such as YourSpeed.
Computer users are often too quick to blame their Internet Service Provider (ISP) for low throughput, but this can be caused by all manner of things. Excessive noise on the phone line, for example, or some sort of bottleneck in your computer, or often because the internet is simply too busy at the time of testing.
As Numion point out, the download speed is what most people focus on. If you're overwhelmed by all the information, just ignore the rest, simply look at the reported download speed. The higher the number, the faster you can use the Internet. Basically, while not the complete answer to online connectivity issues, it's not bad advice for the majority of PC users.