What Are Good Upload and Download Speeds?

Most Internet service providers offer multiple connection plans, each with different upload and download speeds. However, it can often be tricky to decide which plan to pick. Should you always choose the fastest option? Can you afford to choose a slower speed, or will it not be worth it? What even are good upload and download speeds? In this article, learn what good upload and download speeds are and how to increase your speeds if you're having problems.

What is a good upload speed?

Generally speaking, an upload speed of 5 Mbps is considered good. For online activities like searching webpages, sending and checking emails, and working with standard applications, this speed should handle any necessary uploading.

Higher upload speeds become important for features such as video chatting, playing video games, live streaming, or uploading higher-resolution images. It is important to realize that streaming here doesn't refer to streaming networks like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, as those relate to download speed. This type of streaming specifically refers to videos that you are sending to the Internet.

A scale of upload speeds and download speeds

For any of these functions, ISPs recommend a minimum upload speed of 25 Mbps; many users prefer speeds of up to 50 Mbps for these activities. Apps such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams generally require a minimum of 20 Mbps speed to function properly as well. If you are using your home network for streaming or work-related activities, high speed Internet will be necessary.

What is a good download speed?

A good download speed is determined completely by what online activities you want to use your device for. Generally, a download speed of 10Mbps works sufficiently for online activities as described above. However, some activities require higher download speeds.

Video streaming from Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming services is one such activity. To stream HD video, a download speed of 25Mbps is considered a good Internet speed. To stream 4K video, that number is upped to 100Mbps. Online gaming also recommends an Internet download speed of at least 100Mbps.

How do I check my upload and download speeds?

You can test your upload and download speeds using the Internet speed test. Navigate to WhatIsMyIP's Internet speed test in your web browser and you'll be able to see your upload and download speeds. Click Start Test, give the tool a moment to work, and you'll receive your speed test results.

Understanding speed issues

Why is my upload speed so slow?

There could be many reasons as to why you are experiencing slow upload speeds. The most likely reason is that you are experiencing poor Internet connectivity. Data cap limitations in Internet service plans could be causing the slow upload speed if you have reached your data limit. Alternatively, you may be in an area with little to no coverage.

It could also be that there are simply too many devices connected to the network you’re on. Latency decreases the more devices you add to a network, which affects your network speeds. The only solutions here are to upgrade to a faster plan or purchase a wireless router that can handle multiple devices.

You also may experience slow speeds if you have outdated router firmware or a malware problem in your system. Updating software and running antivirus software can easily fix these problems.

Many modern applications and programs send and receive a large amount of data to and from your device. These apps can eat up your bandwidth in the background, so make sure you close apps like these when not in use. Creating a set bandwidth limit can also help with data flow.

Why is my download speed so slow?

Slow download speeds can seriously irritate users. Some turn to methods such as torrenting to increase their download speeds. However, this isn't always the most secure option; it's better to understand why you're experiencing speed issues.

It is possible that you are trying to download multiple things at the same time. Double check to make sure that you are only downloading one thing at a time. You can pause or cancel downloads if multiple are running simultaneously.

Your device’s throughput and latency can also play a role. Even if you have good download speed, if you are downloading enough data, there is going to be wait-time due to throughput latency; only so much can be downloaded at a time, and you have to wait a minimum amount of time for the data to be transferred to your computer. Network congestion can further increase latency and slow download speeds.

Finally, check to make sure your device has the available storage for the download and that it isn’t running too many background processes. You can see the processes by accessing the Task Manager app through the Windows search bar or by going to Activity Monitor on Mac.

How do I increase my upload and download speeds?

There are many things that you can do to increase your device’s upload and download speeds. For both, it can be as simple as upgrading your Internet plan or checking for malware in the system. Closing apps and processes that run in the background will also help you get a fast Internet speed.

To further increase upload speeds, you can reset your router, or use a wired connection to join the network instead of a wireless one. Disconnecting other devices from the network will clear network traffic and increase speeds, and clearing cache or temporary files will free space in your computer for more processing and storage power.

For download speed, make sure you close all apps not currently in use. Clearing browser cache or your phone's cache is a great way to increase download speed if you are using a browser and not an application to download information or stream video.

Test your modem and router to make sure they are set up and functioning properly. Hardwiring connection through an Ethernet cable instead of WiFi will also help. If none of these work, the solution can be as simple as restarting your computer.