Mac Gems: Speedy Net is a simple tool for testing your network performance
Have you ever wondered just how fast your home or work network really is? Or needed to troubleshoot a network connection? There are some solid command-line (Terminal) tools, such as iperf, that let you do this, as well as a number of traditional Mac apps. But Speedy Net (Mac App Store link), which I discovered last year via Twitter, is my current tool of choice. It’s a little app that does one thing, but does it well and simply: It lets you test the performance of a network connection between two Macs (or, using the $1 Speedy Net iOS app, between any combination of Macs and iOS devices).
Launch Speedy Net on two Macs on your network—it works only over a local network—and, assuming the Macs can see each other, each will show up in the Network Devices list on the other. On either end, select a connection to test, choose the amount of data to transfer (10GB, 1GB, 500MB, or 100MB), and click Start Test. You’ll see a progress bar as the data is transferred, along with live-updated data on network speed (in Mbps), latency (in ms), and time (in minutes and seconds). When the test finishes, you see the overall results.
Speedy Net can be useful for more than just satisfying your curiosity. Last year, I was experiencing very slow Internet and network performance on my office iMac; the other Macs in our home weren’t exhibiting the same problems. To eliminate my Internet connection as a culprit, I fired up Speedy Net and tested a local transfer between the iMac and the Mac mini in the family room. (Both Macs were connected to our home network using Ethernet.) The results were, frankly, horrible—the transfer speed, around 60 to 70 Mbps, was slower than it would have been on a bad Wi-Fi network.
I switched the iMac to Wi-Fi, keeping the Mac mini connected via Ethernet, and ran a Speedy Net test again, and the data-transfer speed was dramatically better. In other words, the problem was likely with Ethernet, and it was likely on the iMac’s end. I swapped Ethernet cables on the iMac and ran another test, but the new cable didn’t fix the problem. Next I switched the iMac to a different Ethernet port in my office; when I ran the Speedy Net test again, I got speeds of roughly 500 Mbps. It turns out my iMac’s normal Ethernet jack (the wall port, not the one on the iMac) had gone bad, and Speedy Net made it easy to find the problem.
As I mentioned above, you can also use the Speedy Net iOS app to test the speed of an iOS device’s wireless connection. However, while the iOS app usually worked well for me, it occasionally gave me “Timed Out” errors on the iOS devices.
Speedy Net doesn’t keep any record of your results, so you’ll need to do that manually. I’d like to see a log of tests that includes the date and time of each test, which devices were involved, and what the results were. It would also be nice to be able to see, say, a chart or graph of all Ethernet tests, or of all tests involving a particular device, in order to quickly identify places where your network (or a device) is having performance issues.
Even without such reporting, however, Speedy Net is a handy utility and it’s easy to use—it’s tough to beat for a buck.
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