Q. I read your story about how to improve your Internet speed, but how do you actually check your Internet speed? We are all home because of the virus just like the person who sent you that question, and our Netflix streaming doesn’t seem as fast as normal. But it’s hard to tell. Is there a way to check it? — Melinda, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Melinda, as I noted in yesterday’s article, ‘3 Ways to Improve Your Video Streaming,‘ your WiFi network could experience a dramatic decline in speed if multiple people are using it at the same time. And thanks to the Coronavirus, there are plenty of homes right now with multiple people on the Net.
That’s why I recommend that you purchase an Internet plan that at least promises speeds up to 50Mbps, if your budget allows. With a high-speed service, you are less likely to see a reduction in performance even if the average speed falls; it will still fall within a range that will ensure a good picture for everyone.
For instance, Netflix says you need a minimum speed of 5 Megabits (Mbps) to watch high-def and 25 Megabits to watch 4K programming. With a 50 Mbps plan (or better), you should meet those standards under most circumstances. But if your service is less powerful, your Internet service’s speed will vary, and sometimes dip below the minimum requirement for a 4K or even high-def picture.
When this occurs, some streaming services may post an on-screen message asking if you want to change the HD setting to SD, or the 4K setting to HD. I would not advise doing this very often. You are paying for HD and/or 4K and you want to watch your show or movie with the best picture quality possible.
If the picture quality falls off for a relatively long period of time, I would suggest re-starting the program to see if that will improve the speed.And when I say, re-start, I mean just begin the show from the point where you stopped watching. You can do this by hitting Stop and then returning to the Menu and hit the Resume button. This will take you back to the scene you were watching so you don’t have to start from the beginning.
Now to your specific question, there are two things you can do to check the speed and resolution of your Netflix picture, or any streaming service. First, you can go to Fast.com and do a test of your ISP’s speed. (Fast.com is Netflix’s own web-based speed test, but it can be used to measure any service.)
Besides the online speed test, there’s another way to check your Netflix streaming speed and it’s located right in your Netflix app. If you go to Netflix’s ‘Get Help’ section, there’s a feature called, ‘Check Your Network.’ Click on it and Netflix will measure your connection speed and the reliability of your connection to Netflix’s servers.
Melinda, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann