About Internet Connection Speeds

Our Bandwidth and Ping tests can help you pinpoint problems with your connection--and in some cases, offer a fix. However, it's important to remember that several factors may affect a connection at any given time. As a result, you may see very different results from repeated tests. To get an accurate picture of how your connection is performing, first make sure you apply any tips you find here, then test several times at once, and at different times of the day. You should also continually monitor your connection across a period of weeks to watch for any ongoing trends or problems.

Three factors outside your computer control how quickly you can view Web pages:

  1. The Internet bandwidth between your computer and the site you're viewing.
  2. The round-trip time between your computer and the site you're viewing.
  3. The response time of the site you're viewing.

Average Ping measures the round-trip time in milliseconds for a packet to travel from the PC being tested to seven Web sites and back; lower numbers indicate better performance. Ping Loss indicates what percent of the packets sent did not return; ideally this should be zero, indicating that all the packets were returned.

Ping times and losses can vary greatly depending on the speed and quality of your Internet connection, congestion on the Internet, and the load being handled by the PC Pitstop server. In general, ping times under 100ms are typical of T1, DSL, or cable modems. Consistent ping times of more than 500ms should only be seen in connections that span continents (e.g., USA to Europe) and/or are linked by satellite. Ping losses usually indicate Internet congestion.

The Bandwidth measurement is, in simple terms, the transmission speed or throughput of your connection to the Internet. However, measuring bandwidth can be tricky, since the lowest bandwidth point between your computer and the site you're looking at determines the effective transmission speed at any moment. Our tests measure the Internet bandwidth between your computer and PC Pitstop's servers.

In general, if your bandwidth result is roughly 85% of the rated connection speed for your modem or device, you're receiving acceptable throughput (though shared connections may affect this, too). However, since Internet performance can be erratic and you can't expect to get nominal bandwidth every time you test, you should test several times, and at different times of the day, to get the most accurate rating.