For weeks, I've been trying to help my ISP, Cox, get to the bottom of a sporadic slowdown of my home broadband service. These sort of intermittent issues are the hardest to nail down, and can be expensive and aggravating to resolve.
All members of the household would simultaneously notice a 3-5 minute extreme slowdown of our service, falling to around 1Mbps downstream, with a random assortment of much slower than normal upstream as well. Occasionally, I'd log into our Motorola cable modem after such an outage to check in on the logs, noticing it was sometimes rebooting.
So now what? The problem struck only 2-4 times per day, and the rest of the day, the network was healthy, and speeds tested out fine. Cox support's own logs merely showed all was healthy with the network as well. They only poll periodically, and the signals strengths looked good, and the pings responded. Seemingly nothing wrong.
What I needed was a way to easily leave a system running for a while, to hit the network every few minutes and test the speed, without me having to click anything. A quick Google search found a lot of speed testers, like the speedtest.net that Cox and Comcast and others have directed me toward many times. But for repeated, automated tests, the one I found that does what I needed is called TestMy Net, aka, Internet Speed Test v13, aka testmy.net. No flash or Java, just HTML5, explained here.
You make a choice of city for the server you're going to test against, set your frequency and duration and click 'Start Automatic Test' and it's off and running. Very simple, and effective, with easy-to-share results. Results can also be saved, if you take a moment to set up an account.
In my home, we wound up replacing outdoor cabling, trying different cable modems, and even bypassing our router by running testmy.net on a laptop directly attached to the cable modem. These were just some of the things I needed to do to help figure out what the culprit really was. In the end, Cox did admit issues outside the home and in the neighborhood, and we found it helpful that I could share some solid evidence of a very real problem with them, using the results of the Automatic Speed Test:
Why use The Automatic Speed Test?
The frequent testing of a connection can come in handy if you're having connection problems. This test will give you an accurate log of your connection on a regular interval without having to run back to your computer over and over. The information you get from the database after letting this test run for a given amount of time can then be shown to your ISP to help troubleshoot the problem. Just share "Your Results" with them. If your ISP tries to send you to a speed test that they host please read facts on speed test legitimacy.
Here's my log, with those clear indications of network speed drops.
Let us know how your automatic speed testing goes, by dropping us a comment below.