Many consumers are faced with the dilemma of selecting an ideal internet speed. With so many different speed options to choose from, trying to answer the question can be confusing. On the one hand, you don’t want to pay for power you won’t be using; on the other, you don’t want to be slowed down with a weak internet connection.
What Internet Speed Do I Need?
Most Internet users must ask themselves some form of the question, “What internet speed should I get?” at some point. There are numerous options and providers, and it can be difficult to navigate and understand them all. However, the answer to questions such as, “How fast of internet do I need?” are rooted in a fairly simple concept: your typical daily online usage habits.
How Fast is Your Current Speed?
If you have internet service at this time, use this to gauge how to proceed going forward. Are you satisfied with it? How is its performance across a range of tasks? If it’s less than ideal, find out your current speed and find out if more bandwidth is available. You can contact your service provider to find out the current speed, but there are numerous online speed testing tools as well. (You may find out the actual speed differs from the stated speed your provider claims to offer.)
Generally, internet speed is measured in Mbps (or megabits per second), which reflects data transfer speeds. High-speed networks require higher megabit volumes, usually measured in Gbps (gigabits per second) – with one gigabit equaling 1000 Mbps.
Other factors to consider include …
Personal Online Communications
Your type of online communications should also be considered when selecting an internet speed. If communication via text is your go-to method of sharing, you won’t need much internet speed to cover this. However, if you plan to interface with others via video-sharing sites such as Skype, you’ll need more bandwidth. Consider using a download speed between 1Mbps – 8 Mbps for effective online video communications.
Uploading/Downloading Large Files
File sharing is another consideration when answering the question "How fast does my internet need to be?" If you share a lot of computer files (especially things such as high-resolution photos or videos), higher bandwidth is a must. Look for bandwidth in the range of 50 Mbps for downloading and at least 25 Mbps for uploading. This will allow for much faster performance, especially for items like photos. Sharing videos may require even more speed to ensure quick uploads and view-ability.
If you or your family loves to watch videos or streaming movies online, a faster, higher-quality connection with strong bandwidth is also a must. As you might expect, high-definition video requires more bandwidth than low-resolution videos. Movie streaming providers such as Netflix recommend 3Mbps of speed (at minimum) for a quality streaming experience. Webinars also require about 3 Mbps of bandwidth. Watching HD videos will require between 5 Mbps - 7 Mbps.
Do You Work From Home?
Someone who works from home will have different considerations than someone who is using the internet for personal use. Work-related internet traffic often calls for higher performance and reliability than personal use. If your job requires uploading or sharing large or high-resolution files, you will want high-performance speeds (5 Mbps). Using Skype, video conferencing applications or VoIP technology (voice over internet protocol) may even require higher bandwidth.
Today’s video games are more complex and advanced than ever. Because of this, they require increasingly higher amounts of bandwidth to ensure a satisfying user experience. Whether your teenage son loves playing these games or you’re hooked on them yourself, check the manufacturer recommendations for the ideal internet speed. Typically, 40 Mbps (or higher) will be required.
How Many Users?
Another consideration is the number of users that will be accessing your network at any given time, and what they will be doing. The more people using the network and engaging in high-bandwidth activities like file sharing and gaming, the more speed and power you will need to ensure network crashes are kept to a minimum.
Cloud-based file-sharing services such as Dropbox or iCloud also need strong bandwidth to ensure you can sync your files across all your devices (computers, phones, tablets). Higher bandwidth in the range of 50 Mbps for downloading and at least 25 Mbps for uploading should help facilitate cloud-file sharing.
Location, location, location
Internet speed options often depend on your location. In some urban areas where fiber-optic internet providers operate, speeds can range from 500 Mbps to upwards of 1 Gbps. Rural or undeveloped areas may have more-limited speeds and options. Those that do not have cable or DSL connection may need to consider a satellite connection.
Getting the most out of the internet begins with having an adequate connection. Uploading and downloading speeds should be carefully considered before selecting an internet provider.
If these tips did not answer the question, “What internet speed do I need?”, feel free to contact Geeks On Site. We’ll be happy to discuss your connectivity options and suggest steps you can take to make your home network run more efficiently.