- How much internet speed do I need?
- What is a good internet speed?
- Internet bandwidth vs. internet speed
- Download speed vs. upload speed
- How to calculate the bandwidth you need
- Internet speed for gaming
- Internet speed for streaming
- Internet speed for working from home
- Internet speed for a VPN
- How to improve your internet speed
How much internet speed do I need?
The speed you need depends on your online activity and how many people will use the network. What do you do online most often? If you do a lot of visual stuff that requires more bandwidth or have multiple internet users living in your household, you’ll probably need a faster connection. Video streaming and large downloads consume most of the bandwidth, while online gaming requires less. Casual web browsing, email communication, and social media need the least speed.
What is a good internet speed?
But what is a good internet speed? Around 25-30 Mbps is a good home internet speed for most users. This is enough for basic online activities like web browsing, video and audio streaming, file downloading, and online gaming. Of course, if you wish to do all this on more than a couple of devices simultaneously, you’ll need a higher speed. The table below shows the approximate bandwidth you need for various online activities.
|1-5 Mbps||Email, browsing, Google search, streaming music, standard definition video streaming on a single device|
|5-8 Mbps||High-definition video streaming on a single device|
|8-40 Mbps||Online gaming on a single device, video calling|
|40-100 Mbps||Watching high-definition video on a few devices, online gaming on a few devices, downloading large files, 4K streaming|
|100 Mbps-500 Mbps||Streaming ultra high-definition video on a few devices|
What are the fastest internet connection types?
Internet speed is essential for seamless browsing and streaming experiences. You don’t necessarily need the fastest internet on the market. However, enough bandwidth is essential to businesses and individuals carrying out advanced tasks. Let’s look at the fastest internet connection types:
|Internet type||Max speed|
|Fiber||5,000Mbps (5 Gbps)|
|Cable||1,200Mbps (1.2 Gbps)|
|5G||1,000Mbps (1 Gbps)|
These are some general numbers that different types of connections can offer. However, the speed you receive from these types of connections largely depends on various factors such as configurations, network congestion, quality/capacity of the equipment used, and many more.
Internet bandwidth vs. internet speed
People often use the terms “internet bandwidth” and “internet speed” interchangeably, but they are not the same even though we use megabits per second (Mbps) to measure them both. Bandwidth indicates how many megabits of data can be transferred over a connection in one second. In other words, bandwidth illustrates the capabilities of your network connection and the maximum amount of data it can transfer in perfect conditions.
Internet speed measures how fast data is traveling at a given moment. It might not necessarily be the same as your bandwidth. Various factors can affect internet speed, such as:
- Type of connection. For example, you will have a much higher speed with a fiber connection than with an old-school dial-up. If you plug an internet cable into your device, your speed will likely be faster than over a Wi-Fi connection.
- The number of users. Internet speed usually slows down during peak hours (e.g., in the evenings) when many users are online.
- Outdated equipment. Old routers, wires, and other equipment can slow down your speed.
- Wrong configurations. You must always check whether your bandwidth is not limited due to configuration issues. This may include enabled firewall, filtering, or wrongly configured router settings.
- Proximity from the router. In the case of Wi-Fi connections, the further you are from the source, the slower the speed.
- Bandwidth throttling. Some ISPs deliberately limit users’ internet speed.
We can compare internet bandwidth and speed to cars and lanes on a highway. The bandwidth indicates the number of lanes, while speed shows how fast the vehicles can travel. Even if the speed is lower, many lanes will allow more cars to travel simultaneously. This lets a larger amount of data travel in a certain period.
Don’t forget that the Mbps your internet service provider indicates is probably only the theoretical maximum bandwidth a connection can achieve or its capability. This is why it typically uses the “up to” phrasing in its ads. The actual speed can vary due to the above mentioned circumstances, and you don’t always get the exact numbers from the advertisement. However, in this article, we use bandwidth and speed definitions interchangeably because this is how users use them most frequently.
See the tips in the last section of this article to make the best of your online bandwidth.
Download speed vs. upload speed
The download speed indicates how fast information travels from a server to your device, while upload shows the reverse — how fast your data reaches a server. While download speed is usually a more important criterion, you should also pay attention to the upload speed. It is especially essential if you stream a lot, upload large files, do video conferencing, and perform other activities requiring higher upload speed.
Up to 25 Mbps of download speed and 3 Mbps of upload is enough for a home with one or two devices. However, if you wish to stream a very high-quality video or connect more devices, you need 100-150 or even higher download speed and 10 Mbps or more of upload speed.
How to calculate the bandwidth you need
To approximate your bandwidth needs, you should consider the following:
- How many users will be using your Wi-Fi network?
- What will they most likely use it for?
- Are there any obstacles limiting your possibilities to use the full available bandwidth?
You can also multiply the number of users by the amount of Kbps. Depending on the activity, you can multiply the number by 400-500 Kbps in the case of light usage, by 800 Kbps if the usage is medium, and by 1500-2000 Kbps if it’s heavy.
Sometimes speed is not enough. If you use multiple IoT devices at home and the connection is slow, you may need to increase the bandwidth to boost your browsing and streaming experiences. Various bandwidth calculators are available online. If you decide to use one, ensure it’s not tied to a service provider and will give you objective results.
Internet speed for gaming
Generally, faster internet is always better for gaming, so we recommend going for 15-25 Mbps bandwidth for the best online gaming experience.
You should also choose fiber-optic or cable internet to have low latency and ping rates, which is very important for gaming. Latency is the time required for a signal to travel from your device to an ISP server and back. The ping rate is the measurement of latency. The higher the ping rate, the slower your game might be because it takes more time for the data to travel. NordVPN has minimal impact on your ping rate, and it’s one of the best VPNs for gaming, allowing you to play online with minimal impact on your internet speeds.
Internet speed for streaming
Regarding streaming, the speed depends on the quality of the content you wish to stream. Most streaming services require around 3 Mbps for standard definition videos. However, you will need around 7-8 Mbps for HD videos, while for 4K, at least 40 Mbps is recommended. Keep in mind that these numbers increase if multiple users stream videos simultaneously.
Internet speed for working from home
The best internet speed for working from home depends on what tasks you need to perform. If you attend video conferences, share large files or access cloud-based applications, the optimal internet speed is at least 25 Mbps of download speed. However, if you regularly work with large files, consider a higher upload speed – 10 Mbps or more.
Besides general internet speed, you must consider the number of devices connected to the network simultaneously. If more than one person works from home, consider higher speeds. Moreover, to ensure smooth and efficient work from home experience, you can always check the recommended specifications of your work-related applications.
Internet speed for a VPN
The speed you need for a VPN depends on what you intend to do online while using a VPN. A lower speed internet connection of 5-10 Mbps for regular web browsing or sending emails may be enough. However, if you perform advanced tasks like streaming, gaming, or participating in video conferences, you may need a faster connection speed of at least 20 Mbps. If your daily online activity involves downloading and uploading large files, it could require over 50 Mbps.
Many people have the misconception that a VPN significantly slows down an internet connection. Well, this is not entirely true. A VPN may affect your connection, but the slowdown will not be as noticeable as you might expect. Premium VPNs like NordVPN, for example, ensure lightning-fast internet connection speeds with the help of a NordLynx protocol. While a VPN adds an extra security step, NordLynx should ensure that you won’t notice any perceptible slowdown on your end.
How to improve your internet speed
Consider these pieces of advice to get the best of your bandwidth:
- Disable all the bandwidth-consuming background processes and apps if you don’t need them now.
- Regularly check your internet speed using online measurement tools to be sure you get the bandwidth you pay for. Just make sure you choose safe websites.
- Always select a reliable service provider.
- Always make sure your internet equipment is up to date.
- Regularly update your internet connection software and configure it with the hardware properly.
- Try getting closer to the router or use your internet cable.
- Use NordVPN’s Threat Protection, which can block malicious files and identify threats before they damage your device. Malicious apps and viruses sometimes eat up a significant amount of your bandwidth.
- Try resetting or moving your router.
- If you continuously experience speed problems, contact your provider.
- Use Wi-Fi extenders. They boost the existing Wi-Fi signal from your router, providing a more robust and stable connection in areas with weak or non-existent coverage.
- Use a VPN. A VPN hides and encrypts data, which may help prevent your ISP from throttling your bandwidth based on your online activity. Also, premium VPN services do not slow down your online speed significantly. NordVPN has high speeds and an easy-to-use interface.
If you need more guidance on internet speed, consider heading to our article on why is your internet so slow. You’ll find an extensive list of tips on how to fix it.