When choosing an ISP, speed should be your priority. We all want to download or upload files in seconds and watch movies online. But sometimes the speed provided by your ISP is lower than what is promised in the package features.
When subscribing to Internet services, we are provided with a certain ‘bandwidth’, defining the maximum capacity to transmit the data per second which does not always correspond to the actual speed (it’s like a highway where the speed limit can be 80 mph, but it does not mean that all people will drive that fast).
In order to check the service we’re getting, we generally use an online internet speed tool. Unfortunately in real life, download and upload speeds can differ from the bandwidth limit for various reasons. Let’s take a closer look at them:
- Software. Do you have an update running or 10 open tabs in a browser? Each of the opened resources consumes your bandwidth affecting the connection speed. If that’s the case, it would be wise to close some tabs/programs, but sometimes you cannot control them because the bandwidth is consumed by malicious software you are not aware of, so we’d recommend using a good antivirus software.
- Hardware. The router and the quality of cable also matter. An outdated or incorrectly configured router, a faulty line card or non-compatible drivers may result in the lower speed of the network access. Consider investing in the right hardware before you set up the connection in order to save you time and money later on.
- Latency. The further your ISP from your location, the weaker signal levels in the network may be, and the more often different types of packets with corrective information must be transmitted through the network, decreasing the speed. You can ping the IP given to you by the ISP to see the latency (the result up to 100 ms is perfect and up to 300 ms may be considered as an average speed).
- Overload. Internet speed can drop during peak use hours. Again, it’s like a busy road with traffic jams. It is not a secret that ISPs oversell the bandwidth as not all the users will be present online at the same time, so check the speed several times a day and research ISP services before subscribing to find out such potential risks.
- Traffic limitations. ISPs can throttle certain types of traffic (e.g. file-sharing, VoIP, etc) in order to minimize the load on their servers. If you notice that the speed decreases after certain actions, there is a reason for suspecting the bandwidth throttling.
- Issues on the other side. Any browsing/downloading presupposes server-client relationship (your device and the device where the requested information is located), so if there is a load on the target server, obviously, the speed of the connection will be lower. Have you tried to use online stores on Black Friday? Then, you know what I mean.
if you don’t notice a slow internet connection, and only experience slight deviations on speed checkers, there is nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if you notice substantial differences, it’s time to consider another provider.
As illustrated above, your internet speed depends on a number of different factors and this should help you understand the actions you can take.