Internet providers caught inflating speed test results

The most accurate way to measure your Internet speed is to time how long a file takes to download or upload from a fast nearby server online and work out the throughput. TestMy automates this process by timing how long it takes for a known block size to download or upload and calculates the result in Kbps or Mbps. It also gives a choice of servers across various regions of the world.

If the test completes within 7 seconds for a download or 5 seconds for an upload, it automatically reruns the test with a larger block size to improve the test result accuracy. It is also possible to choose a specific block size to test with, which is useful for improving the accuracy with networks that fluctuate in speed such as wireless connections.

Running your own tests

Let’s start by running TestMy with a single connection to its test server:

  1. Go to http://testmy.net/mirror and click [Set Default] for the test server nearest to you. The yellow star indicates the chosen test server.
  2. Click the “Test My Internet+” button towards the top right and click ‘Combined’.

Now let’s repeat the test over port 8080:

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  1. Go to http://testmy.net:8080/mirror and click [Set Default] for nearest test server to you. The yellow star indicates the chosen test server.
  2. Click the “Test My Internet+” button towards the top right and click ‘Combined’.

If the port 8080 download or upload result figures are considerably higher, then it’s likely your ISP is giving port 8080 special treatment. In this case, repeat the above tests another time, to rule out a fluke.

If neither test result is close to what you typically get on speedtest.net, then perform the following multithread tests:

  1. Go to http://testmy.net/multithread and click the ‘Enable Multithreading’ button.
  2. Tick the nearest test server to you. Ensure the rest of the check boxes are clear.
  3. Click the ‘Test My Internet’ button below the list to run the multithread test.

At the time of publishing, TestMy does not support multithread upload tests, so the test result figure is for the downlink only.

Now let’s repeat the multithread test over port 8080:

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  1. Go to http://testmy.net:8080/multithread. If it does not show the server list, then click the “Enable Multithreading” button again.
  2. Tick the nearest test server to you. Ensure the rest of the check boxes are clear.
  3. Click the ‘Test My Internet’ button below the list to run the multithread test over 8080.

Note: If you use any web caching or acceleration plug-in such as “Data Saver” in the Chrome browser, this must be disabled before running any tests.

Interpreting the test results

If the ISP is behaving properly, the two single thread tests should be very similar and the two multithread test results should also be very alike. If they vary by much, then repeat the two multithread tests again. If the port 8080 multithread test result is consistently quicker than the regular multithread test, then the ISP likely has port 8080 configured to only deliver additional bandwidth with multiple connections running over it, like what I’ve seen with Pulse8 broadband (which resells Talktalk).

Finally, if the multithread test results are considerably quicker than the non-multithread test results, even for the standard HTTP port, then this is a good indication of high contention on the network. For example, high contention on a fixed wireless service typically results in significant speed variations between running a standard test and a multithread test, even without any significant difference from the equivalent tests run over port 8080.

If you’re having any difficulty analysing your own results though, please post the results on our forum and our experts will advise.

Let’s head to the final page to find out why a fast single connection is important…

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