7 Best Internet Speed Testing Tools & Apps for Your PC & Phone

Most consumers have a suspicion that they aren't getting the speed they pay for from their internet service provider. Larger ISP's especially have had information come to light in the past about their throttling of user connections. The Verge notes that in 2014, five US providers and one European provider were discovered deliberately throttling their user connections.

For a user, this could mean that the money that you're spending on your link isn't giving you the kind of speed you're paying for. It's a ripoff. Users need to be aware of the services they pay for and demand better from their ISPs. In the end, the only person losing out would be the end-user. To this end, users need to be aware of how to test their internet connections.

How Internet Speed Tests Work

Depending on what sort of app a user relies on to provide results, a speed test can work in several different ways. The most common methods start with discovering the location of the user's machine and then connecting to the closest server. The closer proximity allows the testing application to lower the latency between the server and the user. Once the location is determined, the app starts testing the user's download speed by sending a series of data over the connection and seeing how fast it takes for the file to complete. It then does the same with the user's upload speed and then provides a score based on the results of the operation.

To determine whether your internet service provider is throttling your speed, you may need to undergo a speed test. It's not a complicated system to navigate, and most speed testing purposes do most of the work for the user in the background. Many of them can execute in the convenience of a browser, but there are desktop-only and phone-only applications that can do the same. 

Here are some of the best speed testing tools that are currently available to users on the web today:

1. SpeedSpot: Mobile users have a lot to gain from using speed check while on the go. Developed by Speed Spot, the application allows for testing of both LTE speeds and Wi-Fi speeds. It also enables users to do regular spot checks to verify the stability of their connection. Additionally, the application keeps track of previous tests run to allow users to benchmark their speeds.

2. SpeedOf.me: Utilizing 88 servers located around the world, SpeedOf attempts to determine the user's location and then connect them to the closest server. The test uses HTML5 in its interface and is a smooth experience for both desktop and mobile users. An additional feature for consistent users is that the latest speed test graph obtained from the site can be compared to previous tests to determine if their current connection quality is as good as in the past.

3. SpeedSmart: Another HTML5 browser-based test program, speed smart offers in-depth information about a user's machine, including its ping throughout the test and the final speed for uploads and downloads. The ping information is especially useful if the user may need to diagnose a connection problem with dropped packets. Speed Smart also offers desktop users an application that can track the history of their connection speed, but unless the user is looking for the optimal connection speed and ping for their gaming, the app is too much hassle.

4. TestMy.net: While it might be fun to look at tons of information regarding your internet connection, for the average user, most of this is just background noise. TestMy.net offers a wide range of comparison with other ISP's and speed testers, even running comparisons with other testers live. It also splits its upload and download test into separate, distinct applications, allowing users to isolate problems with one or the other. However, unlike other tests mentioned so far, this one has the caveat of needing the user to download an app to their machine. The application only works on desktops, and mobile users can't benefit from the in-depth insight TestMy.net provides.

5. Ookla's Speedtest: One of the longest operating and most reliable speed tests on the net, Ookla's speed test offers a lot of insight for a simple connection test. It has access to over 1000 servers located around the world to provide best results, and users can change the preferred server at will, allowing them to test on an external server if their ISP owns the preferred one. Ookla also collects information about the average speed for a particular region and users are invited to fill out a survey at the end of the test, giving details about how much they pay for broadband and other information that may help other users decide with regards to internet costs.

6. Speedcheck.org: It is a browser-based speed test website that can be one of the best options for users that can't install specific software on their devices. Speedcheck.org offers users a browser-based test that is reliable for desktop use and it can also give realistic results for mobile users. The analysis also provides users with their IP addresses and internet provider names.

7. Fast: Fast is a simple site. Developed by Netflix to test the stability of a user's connection, it runs an automatic speed test and delivers results to the user. No ping information, IP information, or any other information at all. It's as barebones as it gets, but sometimes a number is all a user needs.

Know What You're Paying For

Whether it's a mobile connection or a desktop connection, the onus is on the user to be aware of the service they're paying for. Speed tests offer the consumer a redress to test their ISP and confirm that they are indeed getting what they shell out their money for. A single speed test isn't usually enough to establish a problem, and it is recommended that a user employ two or more sites to verify the results.

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