How fast is your internet connection? Most of us have two networks, sometimes three, and how fast each one is remains dependent upon a growing list of factors. For example, our iPhone’s cellphone network speed varies greatly.
Performance can be inhibited by network congestion, geography, and other factors, but there isn’t much we can do about it, unless we’re holding it wrong. What about our home or office networks? Well, there’s the speed of the network itself, which is different than the speed of the internet connected to the network.
Local vs. Internet
One of the easier ways to check your internet connection and performance is the website and app called SpeedTest.net. That simple test measures the bandwidth capacity– at the moment– from your local network to a server parked somewhere along the internet, so performance will vary. What about the local office or home internet? Any bottlenecks there? Maybe.
For that I use Network Speed Tester because it runs on macOS, iOS, Android, and even tvOS to measure the transfer speed of your local Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet network. Think of it as a local version of SpeedTest.net.
What you get is simple to use app with simple graphs to display local network performance.
For example, here at home we have a 100Mbps connection to the local ISP and most of the time we get near that speed during tests. But the local network is a combination of Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Ethernet can reach Gigabit speeds, but Wi-Fi clocks in around 300Mbps, so we don’t usually get slowdowns locally– the bottleneck, as it is most of the time, is our internet connection.
Network Speed Tester might seem a bit geeky at first, because it has plenty of features, but what you need to know shows up in graphic form.
The trick here is what is called client server technology. In SpeedTest.net your iPhone or Mac (client) connects to a remote server (server) which sends files back and forth to test the connection and bandwidth between the two points.
That’s exactly how Network Speed Tester works but for a local home or office network without running over the public internet. The list of features and options is extensive considering the nominal price tag.
- Verify your network components (switches, router) to find bottlenecks in your wired network
- Optimize the placement of your WiFi router, try different locations until you get the best network performance
- Measure impact of wifi range extenders
- Find the best spot for watching streaming movies in your home
- Accurate performance measuring of your network using client-server technology
- Get actual realworld network throughput
- Graphical visualization
- Find test servers automatically via Bonjour services
- Export data to tab text format
Caveats? A few, but more limited to getting good results than hindering the testing process.
- Only one client is using a test server at the same time
- At least one device is connected directly to the router / wired-network
- If the server runs wireless, move the server device close to the WiFi router
- Mac only: no other apps are running that use significant cpu (converting a video, for example) or network traffic (copying or downloading files)
Yes, there’s even an Apple TV version to test the local network. How cool is that?
The Apple TV app works a bit differently because Apple TV handles only 100Mbps wired Ethernet, while Apple TV 4K supports Gbps Ethernet. When using Network Speed Tester at the office during a test, we found a couple of older Wi-Fi routers which were not as fast as the newer 802.11ac routers. Just remember, this isn’t connecting and testing your internet connection– it’s a local network test of your home or office Ethernet or Wi-Fi network.
Also, there isn’t a trial version but you’ll be impressed with the nominal price tag.