Today's smartphones and tablets make monitoring WiFi speed even more of a challenge, since people expect to be able to access the network anywhere at any time. And there's nothing worse than a slow or nonexistent signal when you need to get something accomplished.
Identifying and troubleshooting areas of slow connection within your wireless network can be a tedious job. Sure, you could do a WiFi speed test on individual devices, but that's time-consuming. Not only would you have to test WiFi speed on each device, but you would need to run it multiple times in different locations.
Read more on how to fix slow Wi-Fi at home or in your office and what are the main reasons for bad WiFi coverage.
Firstly it’s good to understand the way WiFi speed check services work. They calculate an upload and a download speed by sending sample binary files to your computer, which are then sent back. Some of them also offer "ping" speed additionally to the download and upload speeds. "Ping" speed is basically a measure of latency and is determined with HTTP requests sent to the speed test server.
All of the results are used to conduct the “real" speed test of your WiFi — now that you have the rough idea of how fast your connection is, the more accurate measurements of the maximum amount of data you can download in 10 seconds are taken, making sure it won't take forever to complete your WiFi speed test.
The parameters that can affect the results of the test and cause the inconsistency:
1. There is no such thing as a perfect test
Tests are conducted with sample files, and they can be very different from those you may typically use Internet for. Binge-watching Game of Thrones will load your modem way more than sending sample files. Also if there are multiple WiFi speed tests running at the same time, it can affect the results.
Testing the WiFi speed involves sending and receiving data between a computer and a test server. The location of the server can influence the reading of information considerably, of course the closer the server is, the faster the speed. Usually you can select the server location or the test service will automatically select the closest server to you.
3. Other online activities during Wi-Fi speed test
What else is active on your devices connected to the tested Wi-Fi also matters. You may be watching a movie on your iPad while running a test on your laptop. All the load makes a big difference in results, so for the most accurate data it is recommended to close other apps that may be competing for the bandwidth before you start the WiFi speed check.
4. Rush hour vs. downtime
The more users are online in your local area, the more likely it will affect the speed, i.e. will slow it down slightly. Peak time Internet connection wouldn't be as fast as at 3 a.m.
5. The gear you are using
The quality of the setup for your home network and the types of devices used are important factors for wireless speed tests. An old computer can give different results than a newer one. If the device is tested via WiFi instead of a hard wire to modem, the results will vary too.
NetSpot is a wireless network site survey application for Mac and Windows that makes this job much easier. NetSpot's Active Scanning feature allows you to measure your WLAN speed quickly and produce detailed WiFi heatmaps of your entire network area. It measures upload speed, download speed and wireless transmit speed.
To go with WiFi speed test, download Free NetSpot, open the app and start a new site survey. When you get to the Active Scanning screen, simply select the particular wireless network you wish to test the speed of. Keep in mind that you can only run an active scan on a network you have access to (either an open network, or one that you have a WiFi password for saved on your laptop).
With this option selected, NetSpot will measure wireless network speed at each data sampling point by sending queries to random servers and calculating the time it takes for them to be sent and received. Repeat this process with each network you need to test. Once you complete the survey, it's time to review your WiFi speed visualization data.
When your survey is complete, you will be able to view heatmap visualizations of your survey area for upload speed, download speed and wireless transmit speed. The heatmaps will highlight areas of the best and worst WLAN speed.
Once you have identified problem areas, you can then start to troubleshoot the cause of the poor WiFi speed. Some questions to ask:
Once you've got your network running the way you want it, the next challenge is to keep it that way. NetSpot can help you monitor it. Just perform a scan once a month or so and spot wireless network speed changes before they become problems. Visit NetSpot knowledgebase to learn more.
To increase WiFi speed one should always start with testing their current speed of connection prior to making any changes. When testing WiFi speed make sure you are not downloading large files or streaming movies, as this affects the results. If the WiFi speed test has shown you have a slow connection, try moving your router around and get it as close to the center of your office or home as possible.
You also might need to upgrade your network controller, update your WiFi router settings, get a new WiFi router with a better antenna, or check your plan with the current Internet provider or even try a new Internet provider, if you are unhappy with the current one.
If you want to measure your actual Internet upload and download speeds, there are various online services that can help. They do it by sending sample files to and from your computer. The results you are getting heavily depend on the speed of the sending/receiving server though.
If you are after finding your local wireless network speed, you can usually test the connection speed between your router or access points and the wireless devices connected to those points using your router's software.
Alternatively, try a third-party app like NetSpot. It has several tools to measure and visualize both: your Internet and local WiFi speed.
There are multiple parameters that can affect your speed test results. Some of them are:
Open NetSpot and begin a new site survey. Once in the Active Scanning screen choose the wireless network you'll be testing (you need to have access to it). NetSpot will measure wireless network speed at each data sampling point by sending queries to various servers and calculating the time it takes to send and get a response.
Visual heatmaps that you get after assessing your network with NetSpot help you see which areas really need your attention. Knowing exactly where the problem persists will help you analyze and troubleshoot the problem.