Use My Broadband Speed and Myconnection PC to find out exactly how fast your internet connection is
Q I live in a rural area of North Wales, about a mile away from my BT exchange. Although I am told my telephone line is capable of 8Mbits/sec speeds, my current ISP promises only 2Mbits/sec. To be fair, there are times when this figure has been reached. However, much of the time the actual speed is a lot slower – just 20Kbits/sec, at times – although I realise this is likely to be due to demand on the system by other users.
Having spoken to my ISP, it insists it is providing what it promises, up to 2Mbits/sec speeds. BT has checked the line and, after finding no problems, has asked if I have any statistics they can look at. It says that if I can show there’s a problem, its engineers may be able to do something about it. So, is there a program that will run in the background on my PC and perform a scheduled speed test – perhaps every 30 minutes?
A Although there are too many potential causes to go into here, an internet connection speed that varies between 2Mbits/sec and 20Kbits/sec sounds like it has more than a problem with its contention ratio – the maximum number of users the ISP assigns to a ‘block’ of its bandwidth. You can quickly test your broadband speed on demand using any number of online tools, such as the one at My Broadband Speed. This saves historical test data too, making it easy to see how your connection speed varies.
For more methodical testing, Visualware offers a program called Myconnection PC – use the Download link alongside the ‘all editions’ heading. Its historic test results can be viewed in a variety of formats and exported as a CSV file that can be opened by a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel. It also has a ‘managed testing’ mode for running tests to a schedule of your choosing.
These features are available only in the paid-for version of Myconnection, but this can be freely used for 15 days in trial mode – select the ‘Business Plus’ edition of the trial during installation – and this will allow you to gather two weeks worth of data to present to BT. The program’s use is self-explanatory (be sure to select the ‘Visualware UK [Quality]’ server at the bottom of its window) but it has built-in help and there’s a manual.
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