Ever wonder why the picture you are trying to load is taking a long, long time? Do you want to know if your broadband Internet provider is living up to its speed claims?The speed of information traveling to and from your computer is called bandwidth. Measured in kilobytes and megabytes per second, your bandwidth deals specifically with how quickly information travels across the cables from your PC to the website you are visiting and back.

1. Open your web browser and pick one from one of the many bandwidth measuring services available online. Two of the most reliable are available from Speedtest and Speakeasy.

2. At either Speedtest or Speakeasy, select the location nearest you geographically. What you are actually doing is choosing a server in a specific city trained to perform the test. Click the location with your mouse to begin the test.

3. Watch the screen as the website performs the test and tracks the speed of your connection.

4. Review your results. The first number provided is your download speed. This shows how quickly you receive information at its fastest, as you are testing your computer with the closest server to you geographically. Typical broadband connections will be measured in 4-digit numbers. If your provider promises speeds of 5 megabytes per second, then you should see a bandwidth speed of 5,000 kilobytes per second (kbps).

5. Look at the second number. This is your upload speed, or how quickly you send information. Upload speeds are always lesser than download speeds. This explains why it is always quicker to receive a large email than it is to send it. These will also be expressed in kbps.

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