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Use the Internet speed test to see how your current connection measures up. Results may vary based on device capabilities, number of connected devices and router placement.
If your speed is lower than expected, try moving closer to your router or test another device.
A good download speed is at least 100 Mbps, and a good upload speed is at least 10 Mbps. With 100 Mbps, you can watch Netflix or YouTube, attend Zoom meetings, and play most online games on several devices at the same time.
Some people can get away with fewer Mbps, and others need more. If 100 Mbps doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, use the tool above to get a personalized recommendation. Or you can calculate the internet speed you need using the steps below.
To start things off, here’s a breakdown of common download speed ranges in Mbps and what they’re good for.
|Internet speed||Works for|
|0–5 Mbps||-Checking email |
-Streaming music on one device
-Searching on Google
|5–40 Mbps||-Streaming video on one device |
-Video calling with Skype or FaceTime
-Online gaming for one player
|40–100 Mbps||-Streaming HD video on a few devices |
-Multiplayer online gaming
-Downloading large files
|100–500 Mbps||-Streaming video in UHD on multiple screens |
-Downloading files quickly
-Gaming online for multiple players
|500–1,000+ Mbps||-Doing a lot of almost anything on numerous devices simultaneously|
Fast internet is a connection with speeds of 100 Mbps and up.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines broadband or high-speed internet as 25 Mbps for download and 3 Mbps for upload speed. Although that’s enough speed for basic internet use, it’s actually a bit slow by today’s standards, since many providers offer 100 Mbps speeds as basic-level plans. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has advocated for raising the baseline definition of broadband to be 100 Mbps.
On the high end, residential internet speeds can reach up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) of download speed, or 1,000 Mbps. A couple providers even offer 2 Gbps in some areas, while AT&T offers 5 Gbps.
Gigabit internet is worth it if you use a large amount of bandwidth on a regular basis. It’s also worth it if you share your Wi-Fi with a bunch of roommates or family members. But it’s expensive and faster than most people need, so it’s not worth it for the average user.
It’s not necessary if you spend most of your online time doing things like checking email, streaming video in HD, and making occasional Zoom calls, since those activities require much less bandwidth. But other activities take up more bandwidth and thus require much faster speeds.
Activities that benefit from gigabit internet:
There’s no reason to have an internet plan in the range of 2,000 Mbps or faster right now.
Having internet that fast is like owning a lifted 4WD work truck—you likely won’t have any opportunity to use all that power unless you’re involved in some industrial-grade internet activity, like mining cryptocurrency with dozens of computers all on the same Wi-Fi.
A fast internet upload speed is at least 10 Mbps. But some internet plans give you much faster uploads, even gigabit speeds.
Uploads involve loading data onto the internet. People spend the majority of their time downloading data from the internet, not uploading it, so traditionally uploads have been set at much lower speeds. In many cases an internet provider’s download speeds will be up to 15 times faster than the uploads.
However, fiber internet providers usually deliver symmetrical speeds, giving you uploads that are just as fast as downloads—with uploads hitting 1,000 Mbps or higher on the highest-tier plans.
Your internet speed requirements depend on two main things:
Internet speed and bandwidth are often used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing.
If the internet is a road and data are the cars, speed is how fast the cars travel, and bandwidth is the number of open lanes.
So, say you have 100 data cars all going the same speed—you’ll get your data faster if those cars are traveling on a five-lane highway compared to a one-lane back road.
|1 Mbps||1 Mbps|
|Web browsing||3 Mbps||5 Mbps|
|Social media||3 Mbps||10 Mbps|
|Streaming SD video||3 Mbps||10 Mbps|
|Streaming HD video||5 Mbps||25 Mbps|
|Streaming 4K video||25 Mbps||100 Mbps|
|Online gaming||5 Mbps||100 Mbps|
|Streaming music||1 Mbps||5 Mbps|
|One-on-one video calls||1 Mbps||25 Mbps|
|Video conference calls||2 Mbps||50 Mbps|
You want fast internet to cover the total number of people and devices that connect to your Wi-Fi. If you live with a roommate, for example, you need enough speed to support each of your own laptops, smartphones, and gaming consoles. You also want bandwidth to support devices that are connected in the background, like smart home tech.
A good target to aim for is 25 Mbps for each person in your household. So if you live with three people, then 100 Mbps is perfect for your home Wi-Fi.
Internet speeds are usually marketed as “speeds up to” a certain number. That means the speed listed on your plan is the top speed you’ll likely see, not the average. With that in mind, it’s not a bad idea to sign up for a little more bandwidth than you think you’ll need if it’s available and you can afford it. If you have a speed buffer, network slowdowns are less likely to paralyze your Wi-Fi when your ISP’s network gets sluggish.
When internet providers advertise internet speeds, they most often refer to download speeds, or what you use to receive data from the internet. Our speed recommendations are given in download speed as well.
Both upload and download speed are important, but most people use more download bandwidth than upload bandwidth. Internet providers generally give customers much less upload speed than download speed—usually 1 Mbps of upload bandwidth for every 10 Mbps of download bandwidth.
But you want faster upload speeds if you do things that require a lot of upload bandwidth. To get faster uploads, sign up for a faster internet plan or get fiber internet, which gives you symmetrical upload and download speeds.
Latency is the amount of time it takes for a piece of information (called a ping) to travel from your computer to the network server and back. In practical terms, latency is how long it takes from when you click a thing to when you see the results of that click. It is measured in milliseconds, and lower latency is better. High latency causes things like lag in video games.
You shouldn’t switch internet plans just for having slow speeds. But you should consider switching plans if you haven’t been able to improve your speeds in any other way.
If you’re experiencing slow speeds, make sure you’re getting close to the speeds you’re paying for as part of your monthly internet package. If that’s the case, you may just want to upgrade to a better plan if your speeds are too slow.
Shop around, though, if you’re experiencing repeated problems with your internet connection. Most people in the US have access to at least two internet providers in their area—and you may be able to find a faster plan from a different provider than what you have now.
Keep in mind that there are ways to improve a slow connection without investing in a more expensive plan. You’ll find our troubleshooting recommendations in the section below. You can also cut down on bandwidth use to streamline your most important connections. Here’s a guide on what to do if you feel stuck with slow internet.
Take stock of your upload speed, download speed, and latency by running an internet speed test.Test your internet speed
Even if you’re paying for fast internet, you can still experience problems with network congestion, throttling, and equipment bottlenecks—any one of which can slow down your speed and lead to long load times, buffering, and other issues. Here’s a few ways to troubleshoot a slow connection and improve your speeds.
Sometimes a simple restart of your computer, modem, or router is all you need to get your internet speed back to normal. Restarting clears out the bugs of a fatigued machine and sets things back to normal.
Your router distributes internet signals to devices throughout your house. So the best place for a router to be is somewhere centralized, away from too many obstacles like walls, furniture or metal appliances. If the router is hidden away in your bedroom closet, try moving it to the living room.
Routers get outdated after many years of use as firmware standards improve and faster speeds become more readily available. Aim to get a router that’s certified for Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)—you can check the standard by looking on the router’s back label or on the box it came in.
Most people use Wi-Fi to get internet on their devices, but you can get slightly faster speeds by plugging your computer directly into your router using an Ethernet cable. That reduces the chance of signal interference and creates a more direct link.
If you’re constantly dealing with buffering and slowdowns, then it may be time to boost your bandwidth. Run a speed test to see what you’re getting and ask your provider if a faster package is available.
It’s possible that your internet provider simply can’t deliver on the speeds and performance you need. You might be limited to a slower connection type (like DSL or satellite instead of fiber or cable) or there might be a cap on the bandwidth you can get. In that case, you’ll want to see what your options are and consider taking the leap to a new, better internet provider.
Mbps stands for megabits per second. Internet providers use Mbps to measure bandwidth. One megabit is a million bits, each of which is a single unit of data. When your internet speed is 25 Mbps, for example, that means your connection is capable of transferring 25 megabits of data per second. The faster your internet connection is, the more data you can get in a given timeframe.
Because tech language is weird sometimes, a megabit (Mb) is not the same thing as a megabyte (MB). One megabyte is actually eight megabits. Bytes are usually used to refer to file sizes, while bits are used to discuss data transfer rates.
An internet speed of at least 25 Mbps is good for Wi-Fi. That will make sure that multiple people get adequate bandwidth on your Wi-Fi network while multiple devices are being used at the same time.
For larger households, a speed of 100 Mbps is even better. Generally, aim to get 25 Mbps download speeds for each person who uses your Wi-Fi. So if you live with three other people, 100 Mbps is perfect.