With Christmas approaching, my wife has spent the last week uploading pictures to Shutterfly to create the cards we send out annually to our family and friends. It was taking her a considerable amount of time to get the photos uploaded. Some were taking more than 15 minutes and she was running into timeout issues. We’ve started to take a look at our Internet connection speed and may purchase a different package. I’m guessing some of you may have run into a similar issue, so I thought I’d pass along a few things to consider.
1. Upload vs. Download
The speed of your Internet connection is measured in two directions:
- Upload – the speed at which you can send information to a website/company, such as uploading a photo or a resume.
- Download – the speed at which information flows from a website/company to your web browser. This includes viewing a web page, downloading music, watching a video, etc.
What you’ll normally see advertised from an ISP are download speeds – upload speeds will typically be much lower. Make sure you ask your ISP what the rate will be both ways.
2. Standard Measurements
Internet speeds are typically measured in “bits” whereas the file sizes on your computer are typically measured in “bytes”. A bit is a much smaller measurement and there are 8 bits in every byte.
- Kbps = kilobits (thousand bits) per second
- Mbps = megabits (million bits) per second
Here are a few examples of the estimated time it would take to download/upload a 5MB (megabyte) file over different connection speeds:
- 512 Kbps – 82 Seconds
- 768 Kbps – 55 Seconds
- 1 Mbps – 42 Seconds
- 3 Mbps – 14 Seconds
- 5 Mbps – 8 Seconds
3. Advertised vs. Actual Speeds
You may notice the actual rate of download and/or upload that you experience is lower than what you purchased. This is common and several factors can impact your actual speed. Websites are available, such as www.testmyspeed.com, which can show you your actual download/upload rate at any given time. Ask your ISP if they have a minimum service level you can expect, such as within 85% of the speed you purchased.
4. Average Speed
According to a report from the FCC, the median Internet speed across the U.S. in 2010 was 3 Mbps download and 595 Kbps upload.
We have not yet decided whether we’ll make a change; our options are somewhat limited because we’re in a rural area. Have you recently adjusted your Internet speed? If so, I’d be interested in hearing what changes you’ve made.