Have you ever done an internet speed test? Do you know if your bandwidth is exactly what you pay for? Do you know how fully to maximize the potential of your bandwidth?  In this article, we will be looking at how you can measure your internet speed, some of the factors that affect your internet speed and possible solutions to problems.pagespeed-and-performance

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Use a local server for your internet speed test

Most web-based speed test tools do not work with a local server and this is why the results are flawed 90% of the time. When your test has to travel long distances, the result gets distorted. Here is an example:

Get on speedtest.net and click on the settings option, change your preferred server location and save the changes.  The settings option can be found at the top right corner of the page. After this, click on ‘begin test’ and then wait for the result. Whatever you get here is your internet speed. You will get result for both upload and downloads.  Now, if you get on other sites that do not use a local server, like Bandwidthplace.com and Speed.io you will get different results.  If you need a more comprehensive speed test, you have to use the windows tool known as MyConnection PC Lite, or another advanced tool you can find.

At this point you may be wondering what a bad test result is, and also wondering what you can do to improve the internet speed test results. Well, if your upload and download speeds are 50% below the speed advertised by your provider when you paid for it, then it is a bad result.  The result needs to be taken more seriously if the speed test was carried out during off-peak hours. Whilst you could contact your provider requesting for an improvement, you can do a few things about it yourself too.

Factors that affect your internet speed test which you can’t change

A whole heap of factors contribute to making you have a bad internet speed test result but these below are those you can’t do anything about; you simply don’t have any influence on them.

  • Bandwidth throttling: This is where your broadband provider manages your speed. This is the case when you are using a provider that does some form of traffic management during peak periods. You will also notice this when you are downloading torrents.
  • Distance from the telephone exchange (ADSL Only): The further the distance between the telephone exchange and your home, the slower your internet speeds.
  • Shared bandwidth:  If you live in a location where you and your neighbors use the same bandwidth, you can’t do much about the speed you are getting. As long as the bandwidth is shared, the speed will reduce.

Of course it should be stated in the terms and conditions of your contract but if you want to confirm if you are using an ISP that manages traffic you can use the Glasnost tool. This tool was developed by the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, and it runs fake BitTorrent downloads during the test.

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7 ways you can boost your internet speeds

  • Take a look at your hardware

This could be the reason behind the poor results. For example, if you do not unplug your modem from the power source once in a while the cache will begin to affect its performance.  Again, confirm that the modem you are using is in line with the output speed as stipulated by your provider. You also need to take a look at the cords and wires confirming that they are in the right place and properly connected.

  • Wired connection is always better

Of course,not a lot of people care to deal with the trouble that comes with running a wired connection, but we have to accept the fact that wired connections are always faster. If you can’t get a wireless connection, but really want to, you could change the position of the router, or change the channel of your Wi-Fi.

  • Take a look at your DNS server

The DNS servers from most of our ISPs are not particularly fast, and this can reduce bandwidth. Thankfully, we can get fast DNS server addresses free of charge from OpenDNS.

  • Get new LAN cables

If you get new LAN cable, keep it as short as possible (not more than 50m). Ensure that the cables are gigabit rated shield network cables, specifically STP Cat5e or STP Cat. While setting up the cabling avoid bending or stretching as damage can slow down their performance.

  • Use a Firewall

Most programs on your computer utilise your connection in the transfer of data, downloading of updates etc. Using a firewall, you can set a blacklist and whitelist of programs that can use your bandwidth. This helps to ensure that your bandwidth isn’t getting used up frivolously.

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  • Take a look at your Reserved Bandwidth

Not many people know that windows automatically reserves 20% of their bandwidth for use by automatic updates. Here is how you can prevent Windows from automatically mapping out processes that will receive special treatment:

  1. Open up your Start Menu on Windows Vista or Windows 7 and enter GPEDIT.MSC. You can enter this in the ‘Run Dialog’ in Windows XP.
  2. Under the computer policy tab, open the administrative templates and select networks
  3. Click on QoS packet scheduler and double click on “limit reservable bandwidth”
  4. This is not configured by default so you’ll have to click on the “enabled” option and set bandwidth limit percentage to 0
  5. Apply and reboot.
  • How good is your Malware protection?

Worms have the ability to utilise your bandwidth in their replication, and this could slow down your connection. Up to date anti-virus/Malware tools will clear your system of any resident worms, and also prevent future reoccurrence.

With this in place, your internet speed test results will definitely improve.