Now that we are publishing our Case Studies and having spoken to a number of customers experiencing slow internet in the Algarve, we thought it timely to post an article about internet speed tests. There is plenty of heavily techy stuff already online about the ins and outs of speedtests so we'll try and keep it in plain English.
Here at Algarve Connect we will use 2 online speedtests when diagnosing customer internet connection issues:
Never to be used in isolation - also be aware of clicking on the links to download unnecessary software. This online tool can be used to show the "absolute" speed of your internet link within your internet service provider. The online test will select the nearest server to your location giving you (theoretically) the best internet speed results possible. The server will also be "within your service provider's network" so will not have to go off the network to find other web resources (like when you normally browse to www.bbc.co.uk with the BBC servers located in the UK) so the result will be faster than normal life. The speedtest.net results are a good place to start, but getting 100Mbps on this test will not necessarily translate to the same download bandwidth on normal internet browsing.
Any "traffic shaping" is more easily spotted running this test. Example: If you pay Vodafone for a 20Mbps link, then you would never see a download speed of more than 20Mbps to the Vodafone.pt server running in the speed test as they have set limits on your download speed.
This online tool replicates more normal internet usage and can be thought of as your "real life" internet speed. This tool downloads incrementally bigger files, 1MB, 2MB, 4MB ,8MB, 16MB etc. When the download takes more than 8 seconds to complete (after several passes), this is your true internet speed. It then uploads a file half the size of your download speed to test the upload link speed. They have a number of servers around the world - Portuguese users will usually test to the Madrid server. This site doesn't use any fancy Flash or Java programmes that can affect speed results
You will see this results usually be lower than the speedtest.net result but is a more reliable indication of your internet download and upload speed here in the Algarve.
Other factors to consider when running speed tests:
How slow is your computer - are you running Windows XP (not recommended), Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac etc etc? If your computer/laptop is slow then the speedtest results could be affected.
Are you connected by wireless to your router? The best thing is to connect via CAT5 Ethernet cable directly into your router - this will eliminate any issues with wireless connectivity that could influence your results.
Shut down all other application connecting to the internet: make sure Skype, Windows Update, MSN, web browsing etc are shutdown on your computer - also, for the purest test, make sure other devices are not connected to your network at the time of the test (iPhones, tablets, other laptops etc etc).
You'll see some of the test results from these websites in our Case Studies for our customers in the Algarve when diagnosing ADSL/mobile internet problems and providing the best 3G/4G performance possible so hopefully the above provides a bit of an insight into the process.