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How to get the internet performance you're paying for

You’re paying a lot of money for your internet connection, whether it’s a basic 1.5 megabits per second package or a top-tier 100+Mbps screamer. It only takes a few minutes to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

If your internet feels like it’s dragging, it might not be you. There are several reasons for a slowdown, and I’m going to walk you through examining your connection so you can find the one affecting you. From there, you can talk to your internet provider to get it back to the level you’re paying for, or maybe get a break on your monthly bill.

Before we go into that, however, let me explain a common internet misunderstanding. While internet providers like to sell you on the idea that you’re paying for speed, and many people in the tech community talk about internet speed as well, what you’re paying for is bandwidth. While speed is a part of bandwidth, there’s more to it.

Say you’re watching an HD video on Netflix via a 50Mbps internet connection. The HD video is only going to be using a tenth of your connection’s capacity because that’s all it needs. Paying for a 100Mbps connection isn’t going to make the video smoother or higher quality.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of reasons to have more bandwidth. You can watch multiple Netflix videos while also playing games, checking Facebook, backing up your computer, streaming music, browsing the internet and other things simultaneously without hiccups.

In other words, having more bandwidth is like adding another lane to the highway. The speed limit is still the same, but you can have more cars traveling at top speed at once.

Even if you haven’t noticed a slowdown in your internet connection, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting all the bandwidth called for in your plan. You might just not be using your connection heavily enough to notice.

It’s still a good idea to run the tests. You might be able to scale back on your internet plan and save some money every month. Click here to learn more about making that decision and other ways to save on your internet bill right now.

Next page: How to test your internet connection speed

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