With all of the advances and subsequent popularity involving online file sharing over the past couple of years, even the most novice of Internet users are participating. All of this uploading and downloading/streaming of videos, music, pictures and documents can really eat into our available time online. At the end of the day, the time it tales to either upload or download a file mostly depends on the size of the file and the speed at which your Internet provider allows your computer to perform the desired task.
I know some people reading this are saying: "That's great, but what exactly is upload and download speed, and how do I know what mine is?"
The only difference between upload and download speeds is the direction of the data being transferred. Your upload and download speeds will most likely be different and will depend on Internet service provider and the type of Internet connection you have. Both are directly related to the speed of your Internet connection or bandwidth. Bandwidth is nothing more than a measure of the speed of data transmission over a network or the internet.
Uploading involves sending a copy of a file such as a video, audio, picture or text document from a computer to a remote connection on the Internet. So if you are sending a video to your YouTube account or a picture to Facebook for others to view, you are uploading.
Downloading is the receiving of that same type file that is being hosted on a network like YouTube, Facebook, iTunes or Flickr, for example. Think of this as copying a file from a remote network on the Internet to your personal computer.
Finding out what your upload and download speed is takes only a couple of minutes using a free upload and download speed test available online. There are many websites that offer such free services, including Speedtest and Speakeasy.
These types of speed tests either choose a server close to you or allow you to choose the server location and send small packets of data to your computer (to test download speed) and then transfer that data back to the server (to test upload speed). Your speeds are determined based on how fast the information travels between your computer and the remote server you're testing with.
You will most likely find that your upload speed is slower than your download speed. This is because most Internet service providers focus on optimizing download speeds. The reason for this is pretty simple: Most Internet users spend more time downloading than they do uploading.
In my next post, I will discuss how to use your new-found upload and download speeds to your advantage, as well as what the best speeds are for some of the most widely used services and devices.
Editor's Note: Learn how to upload photos and videos to JohnstonPatch by reading: