Further musings on measuring bandwidth

A few further thoughts on things that people forget to take into account when attempting to measure bandwidth:

  • When measuring bandwidth, attempt to use a site or tool that is close to your ISP. If you’re in the UK and you try to test your connection using a site hosted in the US it’s never going to give you a decent idea of your speed. I recommend Speedtest.net, as it’s a single tool that can test to a multitude of different locations and will give you a much better idea of exactly how your line is performing.
  • Remember to allow around 10% for overheads. An 8Mb ADSL line will top out at 7.2Mbps. This is due to overheads for the ADSL line itself: a certain amount of bandwidth is required to manage your packets that will not be visible on any web-based bandwidth test.
  • Any download requires a certain amount of packets to be sent in the opposite direction. Usually these are acknowledgement packets to assure the server you are downloading from that everything is being received okay (or not, as the case may be). Again, that magic 10% figure is the one to watch out for. A 1Mbps download will roughly need a 100Kbps upload. If you are using up all your upload bandwidth, your download bandwidth will be poor.

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