Internet Performance Test FAQ

I can’t run the test since the servers are always busy. Why is this happening?

Although the test servers sometimes will get busy, you should be able to run a test easily in a few minutes. If you keep trying to run a test and it’s always busy, then you probably have a Firewall or Anti-Virus software that is blocking the test. Please try and temporarily disable these and see if it resolves the problem. For example, we have seen quite a few instances of Sophos for MacOS block the test. If you turn off “Web Protection” temporarily then the test will run as designed. Be sure to turn your Firewall or Anti-Virus back on after you are done running tests.

What browsers are supported?

The CIRA Internet Performance Test will run on any desktop/laptop browser that supports the latest standards. In some situations, accurate speed testing can run at the limits of software and hardware capability and so you may see differences based on non-standard configurations, other plugins and factors beyond the control of the CIRA IPT.

We have tested on Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. We have found in our testing that Google Chrome provides the most accurate and consistent results across all situations, but for the vast majority of users all browsers will deliver consistent results. 

What can I do if my test results seem slower than expected?

Here are some quick ways to stop most problems that may be slowing down your connection:

Rerun the test, try selecting a different test server and try running the test at a different time of the day.  The Internet Performance Test doesn’t test the optimal path like an ISP test would; it tests the actual path that your data will typically travel. Any additional traffic on that path will affect your test.

After discounting the external issues, now you can look at your own home network:. 

  1. Ensure you're getting an unaffected test. Stop any ongoing downloads, and shut down any programs that may be using your connection.  Running multiple applications uses up your available bandwidth. This can slow down your computer's central processing unit (CPU) and therefor make the speed test inaccurate. To allow the Internet Performance Test to run at its full potential, please close all applications and pause all downloads, video streams, picture uploads, etc.
  2. Eliminate external influences. If you're using WiFi to connect, check your WiFi speed and signal strength. Sharing your WiFi connection across multiple devices uses up your bandwidth, which can reduce your overall Internet speed.  Lastly, try using a wired Ethernet connection to connect your computer directly to your modem to eliminate the possibility of wireless interference.  
  3. Reboot your modem and router. It's simple, but it might solve a lot of problems.

After performing all these steps, you should have enough evidence to contact your ISP if there's still a mismatch between the speeds you’re expecting and the speeds you're getting. See if they have additional suggestions or if there are diagnostics they are able to run on their end.

What is download speed?

The speed at which you receive files from an Internet server to your computer. For example, the speed at which you stream or download movies from the Internet.

What is upload speed?

The speed at which you send files from your computer to an Internet site. For example, the speed it takes to upload photos.

What is Mbps?

Mbps or “Megabits per second” is a measurement of speed on the Internet. It is equal to one million bits of data transferred per second.

What does the Internet performance statistics map do?

This map provides a quick view of your results in comparison to your neighbours, other cities, provinces and across Canada.  By selecting Download, Upload, IPv6 or DNSSEC off the dropdown list, you are able to view the various results of the Internet Performance Test.  Zooming in or out on the map, dragging the map or doing a search on a desired postal code will quickly let you view the details you wish to see.  Hovering the mouse over a particular hexbin will provide the details for the selected results for that area.

How was my postal code determined?

In order to run the performance test, we look up your IP address in a GeoIP database to determine your approximate location and based on that, the postal code and city is based off the location returned by the IP Address.  The result may not always be 100% accurate which is why the test provides a method to go in and update the information to ensure the correct values are being used in your test.  At this time, any overrides are on done on per test and are not saved, so this update needs to be done each time you load the page for a test.

How was my ISP determined?

In order to run the performance test, we look up your IP address in a GeoIP database to determine your ISP.  In most cases this is an accurate query, but if it is an incorrect result, the test allows you to enter the correct ISP.  At this time, any overrides are on done, per-test and are not saved. Therefore, this update needs to be done each time you load the page for a test.

What is Ping?

Ping measures how long it takes a "packet" of data to travel from your computer through the internet to the selected server and back.  This becomes more critical when high speed is relevant as in video gaming.  For basic surfing and use of the internet, a higher number will not be so noticeable. A ping of 100 ms means that it's taking 1/10th of a second for your packets to be received, so the lower the number the better.

What is the difference between a Ping and a Performance Test?

A Ping is a test that measures the time it takes for a message to travel roundtrip between your computer and an Internet server. It is one of the processes measured in the Internet Performance Test.

The Internet Performance Test is a complete assessment of your download, upload and ping speeds as well as determining the availability of IPv6 and DNSSEC.

What is DNSSEC?

DNSSEC applies digital signatures to incoming DNS data to scan for authenticity and to verify its integrity. Broad adoption of DNSSEC can protect domain names from attacks by hackers. Adoption of DNSSEC by organizations, applications and Internet Service Providers will make Canadian Internet more secure in future. If the test is indicating a green checkmark for DNSSEC, your ISP supports this security extension. A red 'X' indicates your ISP is not yet supporting this feature. Read more about DNSSEC here.

What is IPv6?

IPv6 is the newest version of the Internet Protocol, the language that computers use to communicate with each other over the Internet. To secure Canada's Internet future, Canadian organizations need to get on board with the next generation Internet protocol, IPv6, which will open up millions more IP addresses. If the test is indicating a green checkmark for IPv6, your ISP is ready for the future! A red 'X' indicates your ISP is not IPv6 enabled. Read more about IPv6 here.

Where can I get more details on the Advanced Results?

The Internet Performance Test analyzes more than 100 variables to help determine if there are issues within the network and your connection to the internet.  These variables and their results are displayed once a test is run and the Advanced button is clicked.  To read more information on those advanced results, click here.

How was the Test Server selected and what happens if I change it?

In order to run the performance test, we look up your IP address in a GeoIP database to determine your province and based on that we determine the server to use. 

  • Quebec and all provinces east select Montréal,

  • Ontario and Manitoba select Toronto

  • All provinces west of Manitoba and all territories select Calgary as the default server.

Downloading from a local server is generally faster than a distant one, so selecting a different server prior to running the Internet Performance Test may result in slower speeds.

Does a wireless router affect my speed?

Wireless routers, depending on quality and type, can have low signal strength. This might cause you to experience slower speeds. 

Should I connect directly to the modem to get an accurate speed result?

If you're receiving lower speeds than expected and modem levels are good, connect your computer directly to the modem to get a better reading. This will bypass any routers or in-between devices that may be holding you back from getting your top Internet speeds.

How will this data be used?

The data you create from each test will be anonymously aggregated with all the other performance tests done throughout Canada. These data is sent back and forth to an M-Lab server.  Together, these results help researchers understand and build a better internet for Canada.  This data does include your IP address along with the results of your test.  All these data is made publicly available in order that researchers can access this information to perform analysis.  For an example of the type of output created from these results, see the visualizations section of the M-Lab site.

http://www.measurementlab.net/visualizations

The IPT does not collect personal information on M-Lab servers, such as your Internet traffic, your emails or Web searches.

What is M-Lab?

M-Lab provides the largest collection of open Internet performance data on the planet. As a consortium of research, industry, and public interest partners, M-Lab is dedicated to providing an ecosystem for the open, verifiable measurement of global network performance. Real science requires verifiable processes, and M-Lab welcomes scientific collaboration and scrutiny. This is why all of the data collected by M-Lab's global measurement platform is made openly available, and all of the measurement tools hosted by M-Lab are open source.

I’m a researcher, how do I access the data?

While the data from this specific test is not available for use yet, M-Lab does provide access to their data which will include data from this test as well as other similar tests that use the M-Lab infrastructure.

Future phases of this Internet Performance Test will allow access to the data that has been gathered through this specific test.

To access the data currently available thru M-Lab, check out the following links:

Data collected by NDT is available...

In raw format at https://console.cloud.google.com/storage/browser/m-lab/ndt/

Via an SQL interface (see https://developers.google.com/bigquery/docs/dataset-mlab).

Visualized in Public Data Explorer

How do the CIRA IPT results compare to other speed tests?

Internet performance tests take into account a variety of measures and employ different methods of testing. Often, results from other speed tests will provide varying results for the same users. Read our blog post, How does the CIRA Internet Performance Test compare to Speedtest for more information.

Future plans?

Are you curious to know what is planned for upcoming phases of the Internet Performance Test?  Visit the development roadmap for the future of the Internet Performance Test.

Where can I turn for more information and help?

The advanced details provided in our test can be used to pinpoint specific issues that may be resulting in poor performance. There are several sites and public forums that discuss speed tests as well as how to improve performance using these data as talking points.  A good start is DSL Reports.