A speed dial representing broadband speed tests

How to run an accurate broadband speed test

John Vinton | Copywriter

Ultrafast. Superfast. Faster-than-the-speed-of-light-on-a-bike fast. Lots of broadband providers make big promises when it comes to connection speed. But what is ‘a good speed’? And when it comes down to it, how fast is your internet really? 

What is broadband speed measured in?

As we’re sure most of you already know, broadband speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). And obviously, the faster the speed, the more you pay. You’ll see packages available from different providers offering 35Mbps right up to 900Mbps and beyond. The speed you need depends on what you (and your family or housemates) plan to do with it. 

Upload vs. Download Speeds

Upload speed will often be lower than download speeds because most of us download or receive a lot more data (like watching Netflix) than we upload or send (like making a video call). Although if you do need to send big 500Mbps files and don’t want to wait half an hour every time, you’ll need an upload speed of at least 15Mbps.

I feel the need. The need for a speed test. 

If you want to check you’re actually getting the speed you signed up for, there’s only one way to find out. A broadband speed test. Before you do that, here’s a few easy ways to squeeze a bit more speed out of your broadband.  

Five ways to speed up your broadband  

😡 Don’t get your cables in a twist  

Make sure cables are not tangled as this will slow things down. And make sure your phone extension lead is high quality and as short as possible. If it’s not practical to plug your laptop directly into your router, at least try to do it with your tele or games console. 

😥Make your router lonely  

Keep your router as far away from other electrical devices you can. This includes microwaves, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, fairy lights, speakers, TV’s, baby monitors and power cables. 

🌄Give your router a view  

Don’t put your router on the floor. Keep it up on a table or a shelf. And remove any barriers like walls, mirrors, fish tanks and fairy lights between your router and computer to improve connection speed. 

⏩ Hit the accelerator  

An accelerator is a clever bit of kit that filters out electrical interference from your home phone wiring. Available online, it’s an effective way to improve speed and reliability.  

🙆‍♀️ If you don’t ask…  

If none of this helps, try your provider. There could be an issue with your router, cables or Optical Network Terminal (ONT) box on the wall. Or your broadband package. Remember, low cost deals usually offer reduced speeds. And older routers may need upgrading.  

To find out more about boosting your signal, have a flick through our handy guide

Put your broadband speed to the test 

As mentioned previously, to find out if the speed you’re paying for is the speed you’re getting, it’s worth taking a simple speed test. There are plenty out there but here are a few for starters. 

For laptops and computers, give Speedtest.net, Fast.com or CloudFlare a try. For smartphones, download the Ookla app. You can also run a test just by googling ‘internet speed test’. Also many router apps have tests built-in.  

Getting an accurate result

  1. If possible, connect with an ethernet cable. Or keep your phone close to the router  
  2. Where you can, disconnect other devices in your router settings 
  3. Run the test a few times. Speed will vary at busy times 
  4. Shut down those tabs and close those apps  
  5. Check nothing’s downloading, like Photoshop or Spotify  

The best thing to do if you’re a speed merchant 

Of course, if you want all the speed you need to stream, game, zoom and shop to your heart’s content, 24/7, all over your home, the simplest thing to do is switch to Cuckoo full fibre broadband.   

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How fast can you go?