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Last revised July 17, 2001 08:39 PM (Optimized for IE 5.x, Best Viewed at 800x600)
For friends, family, and all lovers of dirt bikes
I also routinely test my connection speed on several sites to ensure that my ISP is up to snuff and that nothing changed in my hardware or software settings to "put the brakes on" my link to the Internet without my knowing about it.
DSL Reports (yup, the same site mentioned in the previous item) also has recently added a free and easy-to use Java-based speed-measuring applet at http://www.dslreports.com/stest/0 . It's OK, and has the advantage of testing your upload speed as well as the more-important download speed. However, because it's Java-based, its accuracy depends on what flavor of Java you're running--- and as the site states, some Netscape Java implementations will give bogus results.
DSL Reports also offers a nice automated way to see if your system is set up well for high-bandwidth operation: http://www.dslreports.com/tweaks#howlarge
The folks at PC Pitstop also have been busy, and have added what they call "enhanced Internet tests." Their full-test option ( http://www.pcpitstop.com/pcpitstop/default.asp ) will "examine and save your download and upload speeds, as well as ping times--and let you know if your connection is up to par. If it isn't, your Internet test results will offer an Auto-Fix that you can use to optimize your settings and, hopefully, improve performance." You also can just run the Internet tests, skipping the other parts of the Pitstop, via http://www.pcpitstop.com/internetcenter.asp . This way gives you the basic results, but won't offer to auto-fix any problems it discovers.
Although it hasn't changed in a while, the Microsoft site at http://computingcentral.msn.com/topics/bandwidth/speedtest50.asp also offers a quick-and-dirty speed test.
I'm biased--- because I wrote it<g>--- but I still think the free BrowserTune 2000 speed tests are the most thorough anywhere. It avoids the problems caused by using Java, and automatically tells you, *regardless of the type of connection you have* (dial-up modem, cable, satellite, DSL, etc.) what your true download throughput speed is.
BrowserTune actually takes nine separate speed measurements: It twice measures the internet's "latency" or lag between you and each of three different servers, and then measures how long it takes you to download a block of compression-resistant data from each of the servers. By dividing the exact number of transmitted data bytes by the download time, and subtracting the network lag, BT2K can determine what your actual average delivered throughout is, regardless of your connection type, data-encoding scheme, or anything else.
Plus BT2K not only does nine basic tests on three servers; when you opt for the "Level Three" full tests, you also have the option of testing your throughput with 1 MB or even 10MB test files. These longer tests give you a better idea of your connection's *sustained* throughput, which may be quite different from the instantaneous, short-file throughput.
I believe BrowserTune is actually the most-accurate, web-based speed test there is. I know of no other site, anywhere, that lets you test so many ways, on different servers, with different files sizes, and with built-in latency corrections. And, BT2K is free. 8-)
If you know of a better throughput test, please let me know. But until we know of anything better, check out http://www.browsertune.com/bt2kfast/ for the most accurate throughput tests money *can't* buy!
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