Updated December 2013
If your Internet connection seems slow, the first step is to benchmark it using an Internet speed test. An Internet speed test can give you a fairly accurate indication of how much bandwidth is available to you at the current time.
Internet speed tests are great for proving that you are, or are not, getting the bandwidth from your ISP that you're paying for.
Test your bandwidth with one or more of these free Internet speed test sites and then share your results:
Note: The best Internet speed test would be one between you and any given website you're using. That said, testing your Internet speed with any of the services below should give a general idea of the kind of bandwidth you have available.
All things considered, Speedtest.net is the best Internet speed test available. It's fast, free, and has available to it a huge list of worldwide test locations, making for more accurate results than average. The nearest server is automatically calculated based on your IP address.
Speedtest.net also keeps a log of all the Internet speed tests that you perform and creates an attractive results graphic you can share online.
Speedtest.net is operated by Ookla, a major provider of speed test technology to other Internet speed test sites. See more about Ookla at the bottom of the page.
Mobile apps for both iPhone and Android are also available from Speedtest.net, allowing you to test your Internet speed from your phone to their servers!
ISP-Hosted Internet Speed Tests
Testing your Internet speed between you and your Internet Service Provider is probably the best way to go if you're planning on making an argument to your ISP about your slow Internet connection.
Here are several "official" ISP-hosted Internet speed tests:
- CenturyLink Broadband Speed Test (Quest)
- Charter Speedtest
- Cox Data Transfer Test
- FrontierNet Network Speed Test
- GCI Speed Test
- Midcontinent Speed Test
- RCN Performance Tests
- SureWest Internet Speed Test
- USI Wireless Speed Test
- Time Warner Cable Speed Test
- Verizon FiOS Speedtest
- WOW! Speed Test
- XFINITY Speed Test (Comcast)
- Zoom Internet Speed Test (Armstrong)
Sprint no longer provides a hosted Internet speed test for their service and AT&T's test has been "down for maintenance" so long that it's basically no longer available either. Both AT&T and Sprint customers should use one of the ISP independent bandwidth tests on this page.
Am I missing the official Internet speed test site for your ISP? Let me know the name of the ISP and the link to the bandwidth test and I'll get it added.
speedof.me is an Internet speed test service that works via HTML5 instead of Flash or Java. On most computers, this makes speedof.me faster to load and less of a burden on system resources.
speedof.me utilizes 31 servers around the world and your Internet speed test is run from the quickest and most reliable one at the given time.
HTML5 support also means that speedof.me works well in the browsers available on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, some of which, like Safari on the iPhone, that don't support Flash.
The Consumer Broadband Test is an Internet speed test setup by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at Broadband.gov.
I suppose you could call this broadband test the "official" US Internet speed test but that would be a bit of a stretch. The Consumer Broadband Test is just hosted by the FCC. Bandwidth testing is actually performed, randomly I might add, by either Ookla (see the last entry in this list) or M-Lab.
While it's not clear in the information provided by the FCC, I'm assuming the closest possible server is chosen automatically for the speed test.
Speakeasy's bandwidth test lets test your Internet speed back and forth from a short list of server locations that you can choose manually.
Speakeasy might be to your liking then if you're interested for some reason in testing your Internet speed between yourself and a specific area of the US verses the closest server possible.
Ookla provides the engine and servers for Speakeasy, making it very similar to Speedtest.net, but I've included it here due to its popularity.
Bandwidth Place is yet another Internet speed test option. It's unclear if there are multiple servers in use to help give you more accurate results but I'd guess there's only one.
Like speedof.me above, Bandwidth Place works via HTML5, meaning it would be a great choice for an Internet speed test from your mobile browser.
I wouldn't use Bandwidth Place as my only test but it might be a good choice if you'd like to confirm results you're getting with a better service like Speedtest.net or Speakeasy.
Another good Internet speed test site is this one hosted at AuditMyPC.com. While there are no multiple server locations to choose from, the test is quick and the results very easy to read.
Like most other bandwidth speed test sites available, this site tests both download bandwidth and upload bandwidth.
The CNET Bandwidth Meter Online Speed Test is an Internet speed test that functions like most others.
This isn't my favorite Internet speed test considering that there's only one predefined testing location and no upload test. But hey, the graphics are kind of cool.
Ookla has a kind of monopoly on Internet speed testing, probably because they've made it so easy to use their technology on other sites. If you look carefully at a lot of Internet speed test sites you find in search engine results, you might notice that ubiquitous Ookla logo.
Many of these Ookla-powered bandwidth tests are essentially identically, meaning you're better off sticking with Ooka's own Speedtest.net.
Some of these speed tests however, like some of the ISP-hosted tests above, are powered by Ookla's excellent software but use their own server as testing points. In those cases, especially when testing your Internet speed against what you're paying for, those tests are better bets than Speedtest.net.