Want to know how fast your broadband really is? Our free internet speed tester can help you find out. Read on for instructions on how to use it, or get started now by clicking the big orange button above…
Our broadband speed tester
Our free online internet speed tester tool tells you how fast your broadband is, giving you an accurate reading of the upload speeds and download speeds you’re currently getting.
Download speed - How quickly data is transferred from the internet to your computer. The better it is, the faster it’ll be to browse the web, stream movies and TV, play games and more.
Upload speed - How quickly data is transferred from your computer to the internet. Determines how quickly you can send files, upload photos to Facebook. Typically much slower than download speeds
For more information, read our full guide to download and upload speeds.
Using our speed tester
Our free speed tester is easy to use, and just takes a few seconds. Simply click the button to get the speed test going.
It normally takes less than 30 seconds to run. It works by sending a small file to your computer and measuring how long it takes to be downloaded, and sending a file from your computer to measure the upload speed.
Bear in mind, though that broadband speeds are variable and can be affected by loads of things - including the time of day, how many people are using the connection, things others are doing online and more. So don’t just do one test - run the speed tester a few times throughout the day if you can, to get a more accurate picture.
Average download speeds
Many broadband providers advertise broadband speeds - for example, they might tell you can get up to 16Mb, up to 76Mb and beyond. However, that doesn’t mean those are the speeds you’ll actually receive.
In fact, those advertised speeds refer to what at least 10% of a providers’ customers can expect to get for real. To put it another way, as much as 90% of people probably won’t see those kind of speeds.
You’re much more likely to get speeds closer to those advertised if you get fibre optic broadband - a technology that’s much more reliable and less prone to interference and ‘slow down’ than a standard telephone line.
Why can’t I get my advertised speed?
There are loads of factors that affect the speed of your broadband. A big one for anyone with standard non-fibre broadband is distance from the local telephone exchange - the further away you are, the slower your connection.
Something that affects all types of broadband is internet traffic. The more people online, the slower your connection will be, so during peak times you may notice your broadband slow down. Similarly, if you have a lot of people in your house, all online at the same time, you’ll see your speeds start to drop. That’s why large households are better with fibre optic packages over cheap internet packages - they’re nippy enough that the drop in speed is much less of an issue.
Your speed may also drop if your provider uses traffic management. Some providers slow down certain types of activity and prioritise others during peak times, to ensure everyone gets a consistent experience. It often applies to unlimited packages, which is why some providers now do ‘truly’ unlimited broadband with no traffic management.
Using your broadband over Wi-Fi instead of connecting devices with an ethernet cable will also have an impact on speed. The signal will weaken further the more walls and doors it has to pass through. A wired connection’s always the fastest option, although not always the most practical.
How can I speed up my broadband?
If your broadband’s slower than you want it to be, you do have a few options. Firstly, if you’re on Wi-Fi, test your speed, then switch to a wired connection and test again. This will tell you if the problem’s with the line, or your hardware setup.
Once you know it’s your broadband, contact your provider to see if there’s anything they can do to improve your connection. They should be able to fiddle with a few settings, or give you advice on how to make it better.
There are lots of other things you can do to get your connection to pull its socks up, from moving your router, to getting a powerline adapter that uses the wires in your house to improve a wireless signal. Read our guide to boosting your broadband speed for more information.
If you’re still not happy, you should consider switching to a package with a faster download speed.
Switch broadband provider
If slow speeds are a problem, you should consider upgrading your package, or switching to different provider. A fibre optic broadband package could be the answer.
It’s faster and more reliable than broadband delivered over the copper wire telephone network, as fibre optic cable can carry more information across greater distances, and it’s the perfect solution to slow broadband woes. Most major providers, including Plusnet (www.Plus.net), Sky (www.Sky.com) and TalkTalk (www.TalkTalk.co.uk) offer fibre broadband packages
However, not all fibre packages are available in every part of the country. Some areas will be able to get BT fibre, for example, but not Virgin Media. Make sure you use our postcode checker to see what’s available in your area.