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Whenever I run a test from speedtest.net it constantly says that I receive a healthy 15-20 Mbps download speed from my ISP (Cox). The download speed also varies by server. However, when I go to download a file from the web, whether it be an application, or a pdf file, the download speed in Safari 5 almost never breaks 1.0 Mbps. Why is this?

I use a MacBook Pro running OS X 10.6.7

Thanks guys!

asked Feb 07 '11 at 01:33

ThatMacGuy's gravatar image


edited Apr 13 '11 at 01:25

Also, broadband tests are designed to test for best possible throughput, which is usually specialized for media files such as video. Downloading packets such as typical downloads, the internet can behave slightly differently. So believe it or not, downloading extremely large, densely packed files can cause the internet to behave more efficiently than it does for smaller files.

Basically, if you were able to test the throughput of say, the typical simple web page or email, then compared that to the throughput of say, YouTube, you would find YouTube was a lot more efficient even though it's sending a lot more data.

Speedtest.net is trying to reproduce that Youtube experience and give your connection a stress test. Your mileage in day to day use may vary.

answered Feb 07 '11 at 01:54

Duodave's gravatar image



Thanks for the info.

(Feb 07 '11 at 19:26) ThatMacGuy ThatMacGuy's gravatar image

A website will never give you that big of a bandwidth pipe. It also has to send packets to other people's internet pipes. It is limited on the site host end.

There is download accelerators that will do multiple downloads of one file.

answered Feb 07 '11 at 01:40

kevin's gravatar image

kevin ♦♦

edited Feb 07 '11 at 01:47

Its important to note that speedtest.net gives your speed in Mega bits per second. When you download things from a browser like safari it gives you mega bytes per second. Divide that speedtest number by 8 and that will give you your mega bytes per second speed. I have 12 mega bit per second internet. 12/8=1.5 So in theory I should down things at 1.5mega bytes per second. There are numeral factors in getting this number. You will never get your max. I usually down thing things at about 1.1.

A few factors that go into this are distance to server, their upload speed and traffic load on the line.

answered Feb 07 '11 at 02:25

TechGeek101's gravatar image



Yeah, but you can forced speedtest to represent it in any applicable unit of measurement.

(Feb 07 '11 at 02:27) Duodave Duodave's gravatar image

Ya but I highly doubt he is getting 15-20 mega bytes per second. That means he has at least 120 mega bit per second internet. The number he is probably getting from speedtest is mega bits per second.

(Feb 07 '11 at 02:34) TechGeek101 TechGeek101's gravatar image

Really? I am getting 16.01 Mbps and I'm out in the freakin country.

(Feb 07 '11 at 02:39) Duodave Duodave's gravatar image

Duodave is correct. I have speedtest.net measure in mega bits per second and constantly see between 15-20. Thanks Techkeek101 for the conversion, I'll check it out.

(Feb 07 '11 at 09:29) ThatMacGuy ThatMacGuy's gravatar image

I have a similar situation with my internet connection. I'm not sure what the speed is supposed to be, but a speed test on ethernet will usually get a DL of 20-30 Mbps, and Wifi-N usually never breaks 15Mbps. My dad just got a new apple product and it is really disappointing that it doesn't have an ethernet port built into it, you must buy an adapter for like $40. On all the antennas I have used, even some dual antenna cards, I never reach the same speeds as I do on a wired connection.

If you are using a wired connection, a lot of different websites have different upload speeds. If you are using small websites or websites that have a lot of traffic, the download will be slower. You can try downloading files from bigger, well know websites to see if this helps any. Also, for this kind of testing try to find the biggest files you can, remember that you can always cancel them.

If you are on a wired internet connection, no one else in your house is using the internet at the same time, and you are downloading from a major website, and your speed is still around 1MBps, I would call your provider and see if they have any solutions for you to try. One time I called my ISP, and they gave me a slight rise in upload speed because it wasn't meeting my expectation.

And like others have said, 1MBps = 8Mbps. Make sure to notice the capitalization of the 'B'. I would still be looking to aim for speeds around 2MBps download.

answered Feb 07 '11 at 19:13

KylePolansky's gravatar image


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Asked: Feb 07 '11 at 01:33

Seen: 3,169 times

Last updated: Apr 13 '11 at 01:25