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YOUR MONEY: BROADBAND INTERNET

How to measure the speed of your Web connection

August 17, 2008|David Colker

Before making a switch in broadband plans, you might want to take a free online speed test to get an idea of how fast your current connection is.

But keep in mind that the tests can vary greatly.

The test measures how fast the data stream is flowing, at that instant, from a server to your computer. Generally, the farther the test site's server is from you, the slower the speed. Also, speed can be affected by other factors, including how many people are using the Internet at that point.

The best way to use these services is to try the same test site at different times of day. That will at least give you an indication of the range of speeds you're getting.

The top speed is unlikely to be the one listed by the provider. That's usually the maximum you could get under perfect conditions.

Here are a couple of sites that provide free tests without a hard sell to buy products:

* reviews.cnet.com/7004-7254_7-0.html

* www.intel.com/consumer/game/broadband-speed-test.htm

-- David Colker

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