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Practical Techie: What is good internet speed?

Undeniably, the internet rules our work life and, for many, even their social world. Bad connections will distort our daily routine. Speed of data streams and good Wi-Fi connectivity is necessary for a pleasant, digitally-stress free work day. Since we are speed demons on the information highway, we must begin reviewing our velocity. There are ways to make this happen by a few simple, methodic check-ups of our hardware.

SPEED — This app helps us run a speed test of our hardware. A routine speed test will measure your internet service’s download speed, upload speed, and ping time. Uploading and downloading, measurements are given in bits per second. Higher numbers are better. Download speeds will typically be much faster than upload speeds. Ping measures how fast you get a response back from the test server. A fast ping means a more responsive connection. Kimkomando experts recommend doing multiple tests over several days because speeds simultaneously vary. Video buffering is the slowest.  Factors like congestion during peak times and distance from the relay hardware will contribute to variation. Other speed testers are Fast.com and SpeedOf.Me, which has a graphic.  

MEGABITS — Like blood types, Internet speeds vary according to the physical makeup of the hardware, software, connections, quality of service, and location of the user. For example, 3 Mbps is fine for email service, social, casual online gaming, and normal web surfing. Not good, though, for video streaming such as Netflix movies. We need at least 4-10 Mbps. Usually annoying video buffering or lapses between scenes as the data loads. High-definition content may cause delays, especially with multiple connected gadgets. Continuous downloading files from the web and cloud storage services require 10-20 Mbps.

CONNECTIONS — Slower speeds may occur on your Wi-Fi connection, not your computer, smartphone, or service provider. It is recommended to always use a wired connection from the router to the computer or any device used in down streaming for more accurate and consistent results. If wired speeds are lower than advertised — less than 20 to 30 Mbps — check the hardware first and see if it’s compatible with the provider’s recommendations. This is also crucial; check your network for unauthorized devices that may steal your bandwidth. If so, change your network password quickly. This test will help find connection thieves.

ROUTERS — Wireless networks are notorious for connection problems. A router or modem may be the problem, and we have been told to unplug it and plug it right back in to rest it when things get slow. There is the half-a-minute rule to reboot your devices properly. It is prudent to wait 30 seconds before reconnecting. This ensures that the capacitors in your router or modem completely discharge and fully disconnect from the service provider for a fresh start. The booting up and reconnecting to your ISP will take a few minutes and usually solves a slow connection. Check to make sure the device’s lights are all greenDETECTOR — There is another way to help define a connection problem. It tells when your favorite internet service is down or having problems. This is the link for the Downdetector. It may be a cable company or a difficult webpage, so these tools help discard possibilities. Finally, check if your equipment is up to date. For example, older modems can’t go beyond 38 Mbps. Better upgrade your modem if you have a rate plan of 50 Mbps and above.

Author Details
Author Rafael Matos is a veteran journalist, a professor of digital narratives and university mentor. He may be contacted at cccrafael@gmail.com.

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