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How to Test Your Internet Speed from the Command Line

Anybody who wants to test their connection speed can easily do so from a speed test web site — but that isn’t very geeky. Here’s how to do a test from the terminal prompt instead.

Note: If you are using Windows, you’ll want to either have Cygwin installed, or have a copy of curl or wget installed. On the Mac you can use curl, but if you prefer wget, you’ll need to install that.

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Testing Internet Connection Speed with Curl

This is pretty simple. Just copy and paste the following command:

curl -o /dev/null http://speedtest.sea01.softlayer.com/downloads/test100.zip

The first thing to point out is that we’re using a test file from Softlayer, but if your connection is really fast, you might want to use a larger file from Thinkbroadband to properly test. Secondly, that -o switch is the lower case form of the letter O. It’s not a zero, and if you omit it, your terminal will turn into crazyville since curl will try to output to the screen — it’s also important because we’re outputting the file to /dev/null, which means it’ll basically be automatically deleted.

Testing Internet Connection Speed with Wget

If you prefer using wget, or that is what you have installed, the switch is the same. That is a capital letter “o” and it sends the output straight to null, so you don’t have any files to delete.

wget -O /dev/null http://speedtest.sea01.softlayer.com/downloads/test100.zip

This file is only 100 MB, so if you have a really fast connection, this isn’t going to work very well, and you’ll want to find a bigger file to download from the site linked above.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/21/14

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