How to measure the speed of your internet connection

Maybe your computer is showing incipient signs of laziness.

Chrome is slow, Firefox crawls, and Internet Explorer… well, Internet Explorer sucks so you shouldn’t use that.

Your contentious wife keeps complaining that she needs a new computer.  Your querulous co-worker keeps bothering IT.  And now you, the computer you’ve faithfully used for months feels like it’s surfing the web in slooow mooootioon.

There are many reasons why your computer and network connection can feel slow.  Even if you have a high-bandwidth network connection delay and latency can cause reduce the snappy load times you become conversant with in your computer’s heyday.  What you really need is a reliable way to ascertain the actual speed of your internet connection.  Only with hard data can you preclude the guess work and get a grip on your connectivity woes.

That’s why I’m going to show you the best tool I know for measuring network activity.

There are a few free programs out there that analyze network traffic such as AnalogXNetWorx and EtherApe; however Netlimit Monitor is my favorite.  The Lite and Pro versions will cost you $20 and $30 bucks respectively but the free version simply known as Monitor is entirely sufficient.

Let me show you how to get going.

Visit http://netlimiter.com/download.php and pick the installation client.  There are 32 bit and 64 bit versions so make sure you download the right one for your system.  If you’re running Windows 7 or older grab NetLimiter3.  It’s entirely free but you have to register your email address, name and country before the download link appears.

I’m running Windows 8.1 so I downloaded Netlimiter 4, which is currently in Beta but I didn’t feel like registering so I went for it.  Most people are running it on Windows 7 though so I recommend staying with the stable release.

Once it downloads, double-click the installer and give it a whirl.

The file is really small (4.5MB) and the installation finished in 4 minutes for me.

Running NetLimiter 4 on Windows 8.1

Eventually the installer finishes and prompts pauses for your input again.  Click the obnoxiously large green play button and your off.

Run Netlimiter

NetLimit Monitor breaks down internet usage by application based on the hour, day week or any period you specify.  It will help you figure out if your computer is the problem or your network.

I fired up a download in Internet Explorer and you can see it’s currently downloading at 2.35 Megabytes per second.

You can change the data rate unit by clicking the Units box in the menu bar.  You’ll find options for bits, mbps, gbps and a few others.

NetLimiter In Action

If you click the little checkbox under the DL Limit and UL Limit columns you can restrict the the data flow in both directions for a specific process or connection.

Limit Network Traffic

I restricted my downloads to 100Kbps but left the upload limiter off.

The Bottom Line

Netlimiter is a powerful little program that gives you a quick view into all the applications on your computer that are currently transferring data.  You can also set hard-stops on how fast your computer is allowed to download and upload specific files.

What do you think of Netlimiter?  Do you have any other favorites?  Let me know in the comments!

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Posted in Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows XP Tagged with: ,