Why should I check my broadband speed?

ByDuncan Heaney

A broadband speed tester can give you an accurate impression of how fast your download and upload speeds really are. But why would you want to know that? broadbandchoices.co.uk gives you five good reasons.

Top 5 reasons to do a speed test

are among the most useful and widely available broadband tools around, so it's surprising more people don't take advantage of them.

If you've never used a speed tester, it's well worth doing so as soon as possible, as most just take a few seconds to complete. Even if you have checked speeds before, it's well worth conducting regular tests.

Why? Here are just some of the reasons:

1) See how fast your broadband really is

Let's be frank - broadband speeds can be confusing. Under Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) guidelines, providers are allowed to advertise 'up to' speeds, for example, "up to 16Mb". However, this doesn't guarantee that every customer actually experiences 16Mb - it means that at least . Of course, this means as many as 90% of customers might not get download and upload speeds that fast.

That's one of the reasons broadband speed tests are so useful - they tell you the speed you're actually getting, not the speed youmightget.

2) Make sure you get what you pay for

Before you switch to a new package, a provider should perform a line test and tell you accurately the speeds you can realistically expect. Conducting regular speed tests throughout the length of your contract - a process that takes a few seconds - can help give you idea of whether you're consistently getting the speeds you should be.

Get what you pay for


3) Find the best times to browse and download

The time of day can have a big impact on . During peak times, such as the early evening, when lots of people connected to the same exchange are logging on at once, speeds will take a hit. Some providers, such as Plusnet (www.Plus.net), get around this by managing traffic during these times - for example prioritising streaming video data over file-sharing - but generally speeds will likely be slower during these times.

Using a broadband speed tester at different times of the day can help you work out when your connection is at its best. That can be extremely useful knowledge to have. If, for example, you find yourself needing to download one or more large files, knowing when your connections at its best can save you loads of time and effort.

4) Compare Wi-Fi to a fixed line connection

Suffering from slower speeds than you'd like? You may be able to get a boost in performance by switching from Wi-Fi to a wired connection via ethernet cables. Use a speed tester to compare speeds before and after, and you may be surprised by how much better your download and upload speeds are.

Speed tester


5) Troubleshoot your broadband connection

As with any kind of technology, broadband can go wrong. If it does, a speed tester can be a useful tool to help you diagnose any potential problems.

There are any number of reasons why you might suddenly start experiencing slower broadband speeds than usual - it could be anything from a problem with your equipment to a fault on the line. This is when a speed tester can be invaluable. For example, if you're getting normal speeds through a wired connection, but your broadband's at a crawl when you're on Wi-Fi, chances are there's a fault with the router. Alternatively, you might discover you have a fault with the line

In any case, your provider should help you get up and running, but understanding the true nature of the problem before you contact them can potentially help speed things up a little.

Video: How to use our speed tester


Compare and switch

Those are just some of the reasons to give a speed tester a go. broadbandchoices has its own tool, but there are plenty of other options available if you don't want to use ours - don't worry, we won't be offended.

If you find you're not getting the speeds you expect or are paying for, there are ways of boosting your broadband speed - check out our guide for more information.

Alternatively, you can switch to a broadband package that offers superior speeds - fibre optic broadband, for example. Remember to compare options in your area to make sure you get the best deal possible, and make sure the provider tells you the speeds you can realistically expect to see before you sign up.

How fast should your broadband be? Check out our full guide

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