How to Test Your Internet Connection Speed

Do you ever  wonder if you are getting the upload and download speeds promised by your provider? DSL users especially may find themselves scratching their heads wondering why their Internet connection is so slow. Many providers have their own testing tools.  But again what if their testing tools are lying to us?

Here’s an easy way to do a quick test; go to

Once you get on the site, there are a few advertisements you need to be aware of.  Do not click on the “Start Scan Now” button.  This is not the Internet speed test, this is an advertisement.  A map will be displayed with your location identified. It will also automatically identify the closest connection to apply a test to your PC.

Starting the Test
Start the Test

After initiating the test, the test will download a large file from the remote location (identified by the test tool). The file size is known to the test so based on the time it takes to download the file it will estimate your download speed (in Mb/s). The upload test does the opposite. It puts the downloaded file on the remote server. The user does not have any visibility of the file moved. I am assuming it goes to a temp location somewhere on your PC.

When the test is complete you will see the results (see the image below). You are able to verify the results again but choosing a different remote server.  Click on the new server button and choose a different server.

You should also be able to look at the final results by clicking the icon saying “My Results”.

One useful option is to see how your speeds are compared to similar users in your area. There are also some other options that I have not yet explored, but feel free to let us know if you test them.

Happy Testing!

How To: Analyze and Improve Your Website’s Performance with YSlow

yslow_thumbFirefox only:  When creating a website, it’s a good idea to be aware of the site’s performance and to find ways to improve load times.  YSlow is an add-on for Firefox that can thoroughly analyze any website’s performance and can even provide suggestions on how to improve the site’s speed.

Getting Started

To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Install the Firebug add-on (required for YSlow).
  2. Install the YSlow add-on.
  3. Restart Firefox.

Once Firefox restarts, you can view the performance statistics of any website by clicking the newly added YSlow icon in the status bar.  This icon also displays the current web page’s load time in seconds.


Clicking the YSlow icon will bring up a new window that will give you the option to ‘Run Test’ and lets you choose whether a test should be performed each time you load a web page.


Viewing Results

Once the test has been completed, you will be given an overall letter grade for the site’s performance and a detailed evaluation.  You can view the site’s individual ratings in the categories tabs on the side, and clicking each tab will display detailed information about your site’s performance and ways to improve it.


YSlow also provides information about the individual components of a website under the Components tab.  After clicking this tab, you will be presented with an expandable list detailing the types of files on the web page and their file size.


To view graphical site statistics, click the Statistics tab at the top of the YSlow window.  This will display weighted graphs for the sizes of components on the website.


The Tools tab allows you to run a variety of tests (such as Javascript tests) on your website.  Clicking ‘Printable View’ will provide you with a detailed list information about all areas of your website.


One thing to keep in mind is that YSlow calculates its results on data it receives from your browser and internet connection.  This means that if you are on a slow network (or the website’s host is slow), it may skew your results.

YSlow (and Firebug) are free add-ons for Mozilla Firefox and are a great asset to any web developer, whether casual or professional.  For more information and instructions, check out the YSlow User Guide.  [Yslow | Yahoo Developer Network]

How To: Find Out if Your PC is Windows 7 Ready

windows7advisor1With the final release of Windows 7 approaching, many people are wondering if their current PC will be able to run the new operating system.  As we mentioned in our previous coverage of the Windows 7 RC release, the system requirements for Microsoft’s forthcoming operating system are surprisingly light:

  • 1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 GB of RAM (32-bit)/2 GB of RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB of available disk space (32-bit)/20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with Windows Display Driver Model 1.0 or higher driver

Even though many recently purchased (or built) computers should be able to handle Windows 7, there is an easy way to check your system’s compatibility.  Microsoft has released a beta version of their Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor which will analyze your PC’s memory, processor, graphics capabilities, and can even identify known compatibility issues with current software and hardware.

To begin, download and install the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor tool.  When you run the program, be sure to plug in any devices you own so the program can check their compatibility as well.


Once the Advisor tool has scanned your system, you will be given a simple list of results for your system requirements, devices, and programs.  The Advisor tool will even make recommendations to fix any warnings you may have.


If you’d like to view more detailed results about your system’s compatibility (including hardware specifications), click the “See all system requirements” link.


One problem I noticed with the Advisor is that it ignores overclocked CPUs (failing to display my overclocked 2.13 GHz processor at its current 3.20 GHz).  While the minimum requirement for Windows 7 is only 1 GHz, this is still something to consider if you are using an overclocked PC.  Another thing to note is that while Windows Vista users can perform an “in-place upgrade” to Windows 7, Windows XP users will be forced to do a clean install of the new operating system.

Are you considering upgrading to Windows 7 when it releases?  Thinking about upgrading your computer before taking the leap?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments.