Just because your ISP advertises certain WiFi speeds doesn’t mean that you’re actually getting what you’re paying for. Network congestions occur when multiple clients use a single shared Internet connection at the same time, which often happens in apartment buildings and with less reputable ISPs.
Virtually all WiFi speed test apps test the following components: latency, upload speed, and download speed. From the point of view of regular Internet user, download speed is the most important measurement as it dictates how fast websites load and how long it takes for websites to load, but latency and upload speed are also critical for having an enjoyable web browsing experience.
In computer networking, latency is the time it takes data packets travel from their point of origin to their destination. Let’s say you want to download a file from a remote server. You already have the download link, so you simply paste it into your web browser and press Enter.
Depending on your Internet connection, it may take anywhere from several milliseconds to several seconds for the download to begin because it takes a certain time for the server to fulfill the download request. The time it takes for the reply to arrive is latency, and WiFi speed test apps typically test it multiple times before determining the final result.
In the simplest terms, upload speed measures how fast you can send data to others. By others, we mean your friends and family on instant messaging applications, remote servers hosting various websites and services, and also your peers on file-sharing networks.
When WiFi speed test apps measure upload speed, they establish multiple connections to various remote locations and send precisely calculated chunks of data. The apps then determine how much time it took before all data were received and use this information to provide you with your real upload speed.
As you can probably guess, download speed measures how fast you can download data from others. WiFi speed test apps measure it by downloading chunks of data from remote locations and calculating exactly how long it takes for each chunk to download.
The purpose of internet speed tests is to measure the download and upload speed, as well as latency, between your device and a remote test server. Knowing these three numbers lets you evaluate whether your internet service provider is delivering the service you’re paying for.
However, the results of internet speed tests tell very little about your WiFi performance and coverage. You might be able to max out your wired internet connection but struggle to open a simple website or read your emails unless you’re close to your router.
To learn more about your WiFi network, its coverage, and performance, you need to do a WiFi speed test on one of your wireless devices. NetSpot is a great choice because its Active Scanning feature lets you test WiFi speed in an instant, measuring your upload rate, download rate, and wireless transmit rate via HTTP, TCP, or UDP.
NetSpot also provides a multitude of helpful visualizations that you can use to more closely analyze your WiFi network and discover all areas of signal weakness and high interference. All this functionality is wrapped in a well-designed user interface that makes the application accessible to everyone — not just experienced network administrators.
What WiFi speed is good enough? This simple question is a lot more difficult to answer than it might seem. To start with, everyone uses the internet for something else, and certain WiFi speed may be enough for one person but completely unacceptable for someone else. There’s also the fact that our Wifi speed expectations are constantly evolving, and speeds that used to be unthinkable are now common.
Here are our general WiFi speed recommendations for common online activities:
Keep in mind that these are just general recommendations that are guaranteed to be outdated in a few years. To future-proof your WiFi network, we recommend you get a slightly faster internet connection than what you currently need and spend money on higher-end WiFi equipment with support for the latest technologies, such as WiFi 6 (802.11 ax).
Signal strength is one of the most significant factors that influence the speed of your WiFi connection. A weak signal will result in slower data transmission speed. It may also be responsible for intermittently dropped connections. In order to reap the benefits afforded by a wireless network, maintaining signal strength throughout the coverage area is essential.
Distance is a key element in obtaining a strong signal and acceptable WiFi speed. The farther away from a WiFi router you are, the weaker the signal received by a connected device. Wireless networks that serve extended coverage areas usually employ signal extenders of some variety to provide connectivity to all of its users.
Sometimes your signal may be extremely weak, even when standing relatively close to your router. This can happen for a variety of reasons. You may be experiencing interference from nearby appliances such as a microwave oven or cordless phone that emits electromagnetic waves in the same frequency as your router.
The signal may also be impacted by walls or other impenetrable objects between you and your router. Where you place your router can have a tremendous impact on WiFI speed. A WiFi analysis tool such as NetSpot can help you find the ideal location for your router and enable you to increase your WiFi speed. You can use the application to test your WiFi signal strength from anywhere in your coverage area to identify the optimal placement of your router.
There are many online tools available with which you can test your WiFi speed. Just Google ‘WiFi speed test’ and you will find a free utility that lets you check WiFi speed. These tests can be very helpful in identifying issues with your network’s speed. But they need to be used correctly in order to deliver useful information.
A single test is not sufficient to show you the true speed your network will deliver. You need to test the WiFi speed from a number of locations within your coverage area and conduct the test repeatedly at different times of the day. The speeds reported by the tool may vary widely depending on when and where the test was run. Averaging the speeds will give you the best sense of the speed of your WiFi connection.
WiFi speed can also be affected by the channel or frequency the network is using to broadcast its signal. This is another area where a WiFi analyzer tool like NetSpot can be instrumental in allowing you to identify and address network issues. You can use the program to survey the area and see any signals that may be impacting you from competing WiFi networks.
The results of a survey will show you which channels are in use by other nearby networks. Using a busy channel will negatively affect your WiFi speed. The information provided by the survey can let you make an informed choice regarding which channel your network should use. A simple channel change can dramatically increase the performance of your WiFi network.
Similarly, the frequency that neighboring networks are using might slow down your WiFi speed. If all of the nearby networks are using the 2.4 GHz frequency, you might consider moving to the 5 GHz band to see if it improves your speed. One important factor to keep in mind is that the 2.4 GHz band is better at penetrating solid objects and may actually provide more speed in some settings that the alternative of the 5 5GHz frequency.
People often ask, “I want to test my Internet speed, but which WiFi speed test app should I choose?” The answer is simple: choose the app that best meets your needs.
As you’ll see, some WiFi speed test apps are extremely simple and designed to do just one thing, while others are more complex. If you’re a home user, you probably don’t want to spend long hours learning how to use a professional application that offers 100x as many features as you actually need. Instead, you should pick something that’s easy to use and comes with an intuitive graphical user interface.
Simplicity has its merits when you only need to check what your current WiFi speed is, but extra features come in handy when you decide to do something about it. Always select a wireless speed test app that supports the latest WiFi standards and the most commonly used WiFi frequency ranges. What may be even more important than features, though, is accuracy.
The last thing you want to do is accuse your ISP of not living up to its promises only to find out that the WiFi speed test app you’ve been using is inaccurate. There are many wireless speed test apps out there, but only a handful are mature, polished products that are ready for daily use. We recommend you to choose a wireless speed test app from a professional developer that knows how to develop world-class software and always stands behind its customers.
We’ve selected the top 4 best WiFi speed test apps that you can use to instantly check WiFi speed and picked our favorite.
Open NetSpot, start a new site survey and once in the Active Scanning screen - choose the wireless network you are going to test. Important to remember: you can run an active scan on a network you can access. It can either be an open network or a network you know the password for.
I tested each system by wandering through my house with a laptop running Netspot, an app that builds a “heat map” of Wi-Fi strength. DAVID POGUE • YAHOO FINANCE
If you have selected this option, NetSpot will measure the network speed at each data sampling point by sending requests to various servers and calculating the time needed to send a request and to receive a response. Perform this process for every network you select to test. Once the survey is completed you can review the visualization data for the tested wireless network speed.
Wifiner is an ideal solution in case you only need to analyze one wireless network. You'll get your hands on a comprehensive survey results with an interactive color-coded heatmap. If there are "dead zones" in your coverage you'll be able to clearly identify them in order to get rid of.
We think Wifiner will be great for those who set up their first Wi-Fi network at home or at a smaller office space — as simple as it is Wifiner provides a detailed report on the process. The app runs on MacBook (macOS 10.10+) with a standard built-in wireless network adapter and is available through the Mac App Store.
Network Speed Test is a humble Windows 10 app that does nothing but one thing: tell you how fast your Internet connection is. Actually, it tells you a few more things, but those can be easily found with the native WiFi tools in Windows.
It’s so high on our list because Windows users can download it directly from Windows Store and because it provides accurate readings.
LAN Speed Test was designed to measure the speed of wired and wireless Local Area Networks (LANs). It works on Windows and macOS and is completely portable. The software makes it possible to configure just about every aspect of the test, making it great for pros but confusing for beginners.
Local speed tests are useful for optimizing local data transfer speeds, for example from a smartphone to a remote hard drive connected to a home router.
There are many online sites that offer to check your WiFi speed. They will check the upload and download speed as well as the ping rate of your wireless network. Testing your Internet connection with one of these tools will give you some numbers to work with, but can you trust the results?
Yes, Internet speed tests are typically accurate, but they are far from perfect. When a doctor measures a patient’s blood pressure, he or she knows there are a number of factors that may influence the measurement and compromise its accuracy. Similarly, there are many factors that may negatively influence the accuracy of Internet speed tests, and you need to be mindful of them in order to obtain accurate results. Among them are:
With all of the variables that can affect a WiFi speed test, the results may not be an objective indicator of the speed of your wireless network. In some ways, the best way to look at the results of a WiFi speed test is in relation to previous and future tests made on the same network. If you have made changes to your network meant to improve performance, you should see the average speed increase, but individual tests may still not be as fast as you would like.
When the goal of your testing is to see if your WiFi implementation can withstand the demands of gaming or heavy streaming, repeated tests at various times will give you a sense of the capacity of your wireless network. Numerous tests reveal the range of your WiFi speed and can alert you to issues that may need to be addressed to optimize your network and its coverage.
Sometimes you don’t want to see detailed statistics about your WiFi network. You just want to know your current download and upload speed. Online WiFi speed test services are perfect for this purpose, and we’ve picked three popular options.
Created by Google for its fiber-to-the-premises service, Google Speed Test is a lightweight online WiFi Speed Test with a material design user interface with a single main button. Although the service is intended for people who want to speed test Google Fiber, anyone can use it without limitations.
Speedtest by Ookla is arguably the best-known online WiFi speed test, featuring an appealing user interface that shows your current IP address alongside your latency, download speed, and upload speed. Speedtest by Ookla has servers around the world, so the results it displays always reflect reality.
Fast.com is hands-down the simplest online WiFi speed test service there is. As soon as you visit the website, an internet speed test automatically begins. After just a few seconds, you will see your download speed displayed in large-size digits.
WiFi speed test apps usually check the following values: latency, upload speed, and download speed. For a regular person browsing the Internet, the download speed is the most significant criteria, because it defines how fast the web pages load, however the other two are also critical for an enjoyable web browsing experience.
Latency is the time for the ping to reach the destination and then return to your computer. This is how the Internet speed test apps determine how fast your Internet is alongside other parameters. And latency is also the time (in milliseconds) that it takes for the download to begin once you hit the Download button on some file in a web browser, to put it simple — the time it takes for the reply to arrive.
Simply said, the upload speed indicates how fast you can send data to others over the Internet. If you are using an app to measure your Internet speed, that's what it'll do — send precisely calculated data packets to remote servers. Then they calculate how much time it took the packets to reach their destinations.
The download speed indicates how fast you can download data from others. Internet speed test apps calculate its value by downloading data packets from remote servers. Then they track the time it takes data to be fully downloaded to your computer.
No matter what results you get with the Internet speed test — it still tells you very little about your WiFi network speed. Even with the best and fastest Internet connection, you still might have problems with your WiFi. Test your WiFi speed and strength with an app like NetSpot — it will show you where your wireless network needs some enhancements to get the most out of your Internet service in every corner of your home or office.
Here are the approximate WiFi speed values that you will need for most common online activities:
WiFi speed can be affected by a variety of factors. You might be too far from your router, or there might be strong sources of interference that will deteriorate the signal even if you are quite close. Also the channel or frequency the network is using to broadcast its signal can play the role. Using a WiFi analyzer like NetSpot is a great way to identify the network issues.
Thanks to the comprehensive results you should be able to increase WiFi speed by eliminating the sources of the weak connection quite easily.
Currently the top 4 best WiFi speed test apps that also have additional benefits to them are: