We’ve all seen the tell-tale signs of an internet connection that’s struggling to keep up. Maybe your latest round of Warzone was lagging, or Disney Plus keeps buffering while you’re trying to binge The Mandalorian. The next time you find your home internet connection getting in the way of your good time, take a few minutes to troubleshoot it. A good place to start is by checking your internet speed.
Amplifying any perceived connection issues from your internet service provider is that many of us are still working remotely, at least part of the time. Combine that with your roommates or fellow family members all working, schooling, playing games and streaming videos, and your internet speed can start to falter.
The fix may be as simple as restarting your modem and router — which should always be your first step — or upgrading to a mesh network as a last resort. Below, we’ll show you how to check your internet connection’s speed and offer advice when it comes time to troubleshoot.
Run a speed test on your computer, phone or tablet
There are plenty of apps and websites that will test the speed of your connection. Some more popular speed test services include Speedtest.net, Fast.com or CloudFlare.
Whether you install an app or use a website, it’s a good idea to run the test a few times to get a sense of your connection’s performance. Each test will take under a minute to complete, offering the download and upload speed results.
The Federal Communications Commission published a guideline for household broadband speeds based on the number of devices and people connected to the same network. Basic service ranges from 3 megabits per second to 8Mbps and will be good enough for light usage (browsing, email, video calls, streaming HD video, etc.). Medium service is classified as 12-25Mbps and is best for up to three users or devices simultaneously, with medium to high usage depending on the activity. Finally, advanced service is any connection speed over 25Mbps and is best suited for those with more than four users or devices using the connection at the same time for more than light usage.
Your internet connection’s speed will vary based on the time of day, the number of devices connected and in use, and other factors. I suggest running multiple speed tests for a day or two, tracking the results, to gauge your connection’s true speed.
(For our tech-savvy readers, you can use a Raspberry Pi to run speed tests on a set schedule and upload the results to Google Drive for you to monitor by following this handy guide.)
Ideally, you’d connect your computer directly to your ISP’s modem with an ethernet cable to run a speed test,