Internet Speed By Application

Internet speedOur future is one that will be strongly tied to information and communications, and the Internet is a great example of this.  The door is one that is only partially opened at this time, but already we can see a very wide variety of applications that use the Internet in very different ways.  Because these applications use the Internet in different ways, the performance aspects that are important to you are going to vary based on the application in question.  Here is what you need to know about what type of Internet speed impacts each type of application:

Internet Speed For Online Gaming: Latency

Online gaming generally focuses heavily on having low latency over anything else.  This is due to the interactive nature of multiplayer environments that rely on many updates in as close to real time as possible.  For example when you move, shoot, jump, or whatever, you need to send that data to the server, and the server needs to relay it to everyone else and then relay back to you what everyone else was doing in that timeframe when you were jumping, shooting, moving, or whatever else you were up to.  Just because gaming generally focuses heavily on low latency does not mean that download speeds are unimportant.

Internet Speed For Uploading Videos: Upstream

Videos are getting bigger and bigger every year as software standards improve and camera technology advances to keep pace.  This means that for uploading videos from your camera, phone, or other device is going to be influenced more by upload speed than anything else.  Since few connection types offer upload speeds that are in excess of downstream performance, the data check rate factor is essentially negligible.

Internet Speed For Media Streaming: Downstream

If you are downloading any type of video, even video being delivered in near-real time, you are going to obviously need a higher amount of downstream performance than anything else.  Keep in mind that upstream performance may play a minor role in getting the most out of your download speeds if there is too large a disparity between the downstream and upstream speeds.

Internet Speed For Peer to Peer a.k.a. Bit Torrenting: Knowledge/Settings & Overall Bandwidth

Bit Torrents or P2P software emphasizes a great deal of both upload and download speed, but there are also other concerns at play here.  Many providers place a finite limitation on the number of destination- and origin-points data can be directed to/from in respect to any particular user.  Whenever this limit is exceeded, some networks throttle down performance to discourage file sharing.  Knowing if a similar limitation exists on your connection may ultimately be more important than knowing your upload/download speeds, especially if only a minor tweak will stop your connection from being hobbled by network firmware and server software.

Internet Speed For Downloading Software: Downstream

Most types of traditional downloads will stress downstream performance more than anything else, but reliability may prove to be an issue if it stops the download process mid-download and forces a complete restart of the download.

Internet Speed For Flickr/Photo Sharing: Upstream

Just as video uploads are getting more and more complex as hardware and software standards increase, so too is the upstream emphasis present for those that upload photos.  The more and more complex the photos are, the more important upstream bandwidth is.  Just as we mentioned with video uploading/sharing, there really are not many connection types at this time where you need to worry about downstream performance being a roadblock for data-checking packets.

Internet Speed For iTunes/Media Downloads: Downstream

Downloading media files is very similar to downloading generic software, but most media distribution networks have superior error checking and resume functionalities built into their very designs and so reliability may not be such a big issue unless they are simultaneously streaming content during the download.

Internet Speed For Browsing: Downstream With an Asterisk

Browsing does not inherently consume a great deal of resources in this day and age, but there is certainly a bias for downstream that is growing as sites become more media-intense.

Internet Speed For Online Backups: Upstream

Online backups are the wave of the future and they will stress out even the quickest broadband connections when it comes to upstream speed.  Thankfully, once the initial backup is complete the software used by most competitors in this market is very intelligent and only sends differential (often called delta) data that covers what changes and not the entire data every single time.