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Is your ISP really giving you the speeds it promises? Here’s how to find out

A US-based broadband testing and network diagnostic application creator is making it easier for Internet users to verify their network speeds.

Ookla has announced that its flagship Speedtest.net website is now available as a free downloadable desktop app for macOS and Windows. Speedtest is a web and mobile-based broadband testing and analysis tool that, according to Ookla, performs more than 50 million tests every month and has been adopted by “nearly every Internet Service Provider [ISP] in the world.”

By making the tool available as a desktop menu app, the company says this will help users test their computer’s internet performance without actually having to open a web browser.

Speedtest works by measuring how long it takes for data to transfer between a user’s computer and a remote server by way of their local ISP connection. The online platform requires users to create an account on its site before determining their location by “teaming up” with a local speedtest server. Once that is done, all users have to do is click the “begin test” button and wait for the process to finish – which takes about a minute – to see their current download and upload speeds (as measured in megabits per second).

The desktop version works in a similar manner, but needs to be downloaded beforehand. All results can be watched in real time, with prior tests saved in detailed reports on a user’s account. The app even offers troubleshooting advice.

The company also suggests running the test a few times, as results can fluctuate depending on network congestion.

To put their results into context, users can go to the “My Results” tab in the app (or online) to see a visual of their various tests compared with global average speeds. A user’s best speed score is awarded a letter grade, following the below scale, based on how they compare to other Internet users both nationally and globally.

A = 80-100%
B = 60-79%
C = 40-59%
D = 20-39%
F = 0-19%

So for example, if a user were to receive a 90 per cent, that means only 10 percent of Ookla speed test-takers were faster than them in their category (national or international).

Speedtest is not the only broadband testing and analysis tool available – other web-based applications include Testmy.net; Speakeasy; and Speed.io.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Mandy Kovacs
Mandy Kovacshttp://www.itwc.ca
Mandy is a lineup editor at CTV News. A former staffer at IT World Canada, she's now contributing as a part-time podcast host on Hashtag Trending. She is a Carleton University journalism graduate with extensive experience in the B2B market. When not writing about tech, you can find her active on Twitter following political news and sports, and preparing for her future as a cat lady.

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