How to Check WiFi Speed
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.
How to Test WiFi Speed with NetSpot
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.
Troubleshooting Your Wireless Speed
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:
- Could slower APs be overpowering faster ones?
- Are your APs overloaded, with too many trying to access the network at one time?
- Are you using the best 802.11 protocols and bandwidth for your particular situation?
- Are your wireless adapters overloaded or outdated?
- Do you use wireless extenders or repeaters?
- Could signal interference be causing problems?
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.