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How much internet speed do you really need?



  Internet Speed ​​Test
Tomislav Pinter / Shutterstock

ISPs always want to sell you a faster connection. But forget the marketing: how much speed do you really need? The answer is more complicated than you might expect. Higher speeds are not always worth the money.

Internet speed is typically measured in megabits per second, often in Mbps. It takes eight megabits to make one megabyte. So if you have a connection with 1

000 Mbps (Gigabit), the download of a 1 GB file takes 8 seconds.

RELATED: How To Test Your Internet Connection Speed ​​Or Cellular Data Speed ​​

Speed ​​Vs. Data cap

It is important to clarify the difference here. Internet speed is the measure of how much data you can download at the same time, and an upper data limit is a measure of how much you can download in a given month. No doubt they're related – if you have a faster connection and actually use that bandwidth, it's easier to maximize your data cap.

Data limits are common in the mobile industry, so you can only use a limited amount of data your phone every month. They are usually just one way to break up their service into multiple levels and charge you more for "premium" options, and data requirements increase faster than service providers can match.

Your phone may have an upper data limit ISPs like Comcast also set a cap, usually at 1 terabyte (1024 gigabytes) per month – with an additional option of $ 50 per month if you do not want an upper data limit. According to Comcast, most of Xfinity's Internet subscribers will consume about 174 GB per month by December 2018. However, if you have multiple people at home and stream a lot of content, it's very easy to raise your data cap.

RELATED: Avoiding the Data Overlap of Your Internet Internet

What Uses Most Bandwidth?

Your Internet speed is ultimately a measure of your bandwidth. If you have a 25 Mbps connection, you can view five simultaneous 5 Mbps Netflix streams. With the average speed of the Internet in the US now approaching 100 Mbps, most people can no longer use their connection. However, in rural areas the maximum available speeds may be single-digit.

In general, streaming video uses the most bandwidth – at least for the average user. Netflix uses about 5 Mbps for 1080p streams and 25 Mbps for 4K streams. YouTube is usually a bit higher, as many videos are shot at 60 frames per second (twice the bandwidth) and need about 7 Mbps at 1080p60 frames per second.

However, this is not the whole picture. While a YouTube video can average 7 Mbps, this is not really the actual bandwidth. As YouTube pre-puffers, YouTube usually tries to maximize the connection, reaching a peak of almost 250 Mbps in our tests (when connected at 400 Mbps).

 Steam Download Speed ​​

The opposite is true too. If you do not have enough bandwidth, you'll be reduced to 480p30fps or even less with YouTube, so you can watch videos even with a 1Mbps connection. Netflix works much the same way by adjusting the quality to the available speed. When multiple devices are running, the traffic between your router and the stream will be adjusted accordingly.

It does not matter how fast your connection is, like the streaming video. Generally use as much bandwidth as possible. As long as you have enough speed to support at least one low-quality stream, you will not experience buffering. A higher-bandwidth stream only allows you to play higher-quality videos. However, this is not always the case, so it is always good to get a surplus.

Is upload speed important?

Upload speed is another part of your internet plan that is pretty important. Too often, internet service providers will be selling packages with high download speeds and unpleasant upload speeds. The reason is that people download far more than upload. That's true, but if you upload something, your suburban connection will slowly feel more rural.

  Speed ​​test with poor upload speed
The difference can be offensive.

Your upload speed determines how quickly you can upload content to the Internet. When you upload files to Google Drive or Dropbox, the upload speed is limited. These are not just files. Upload speed can affect the quality of Facetime and Skype because you are essentially uploading a live video. If you want to stream on a website like Twitch or YouTube, you need a high upload speed. You do not use it as often as you use your download speed, but that's very important when you do it.

You are limited by the plans of your ISP. You usually specify the download speed and you have to search for the upload speed. Xfinity sells "Gigabit" Internet here, but only "up to" 35 Mbps high. That's 965 Mbps for Gigabit.

  Xfinity Internet Plans
According to Comcast's "Performance" plan, it would take an hour to upload a 1GB file.

If you're one of the many Americans who get stuck With a single service provider, you may need to invest in a more expensive plan if you want a reasonable upload speed. To get faster upload speeds, you often have to opt for a more expensive internet connection from your ISP.

RELATED: How to Find the Fastest ISP in Your Environment

How Fast Should Your Internet Be Connection Be?

There are two main factors that should influence your decision – how many people you have at home and how much you download. If you're only streaming videos in HD (not 4K), we recommend at least 5 Mbps per person to get a stable, decent stream without buffering. Obtaining an excess is fine, but you probably will not notice it in this use case.

In addition to streaming video, if you also perform bandwidth-intensive actions, such as large downloads on a regular basis, your Internet speed usually determines how fast you & # 39; ll download. You will definitely notice a surplus here. Downloading a 10 GB Steam game at 5 Mbps takes almost 4 hours, but 15 minutes for a 100 Mbps connection. However, they will still be limited by the server you just downloaded, so do not be surprised if you buy a gigabit plan just to reduce revenue. In other words, even with a gigabit connection (1000 Mbps), you probably will not get gigabit speeds when downloading Steam.

In general, you can surf the Internet and most of your daily tasks do slow connections. If your downloads are taking too long for your taste, you should invest in a better plan. If you regularly stream live, upload large files, back up your computer, or make video calls, make sure your upload speed is not throttled.

Fiber connections are faster

Usually faster, because a larger amount of data can be transferred simultaneously. A higher bandwidth pipe means that your ISP can sell you a large portion of this larger pipe. However, this is not always the case and depends on the offers of your local Internet service provider.

Fiber optic connections offer another small advantage over cable connections: latency. Latency is how fast the signal can physically move from your computer to the Internet. Fiber optic cables are not technically faster than good copper cables, but it's a much newer standard and usually faster than the (often decades-old) cables that power most broadband Internet.

Even the latency does not matter much . Latency is important when you click links to websites. Higher latency means a longer time before the next web page is loaded. However, you will not necessarily notice an incremental improvement. If you play a lot online, this can help to lower your ping by a small margin, and you may find that sugar reflexes are required in fast-paced gameplay. But fiber is not magical and copper is still pretty good. The difference is just a few milliseconds, and you probably will not notice it most of the time.


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