Has your ISP delivered data rates that you promised? Is there even a way to find out? Would you just take his word for it? The answer to these questions is "we should see", "YEP!," And "HELL NO!" We can say that because you have access to free tools that clock your own personal connection.
An important tip: before you run any of these tests, be sure to 1) turn off any downloads or upload you have gone on your system and 2) disable your VPN software during the duration of the test; Both add a lot of head for the connection. You get a more thorough reading about the only traffic to the internet and back is from the test you are performing.
A quick and easy way to test your internet speed is to use Ookla Speedtest owned by PCMag's parent company, Ziff Davis. It measures the time it takes for data to transfer between your computer and a remote server through your local ISP connection.
We have a PCMag-labeled version of Ookla Speedtest that you can use at any time, even on the mobile device. We use the data it collects to determine the fastest Internet service providers in the US and Canada.
However, the real benefit of using Speedtest.net comes from creating an account. With an account, you can change settings, such as selecting a server for testing and making it permanent so that it is saved for each visit. You can see the entire test history to see how your Internet connection is changing over time, which is handy if you go through an upgrade or downgrade service and want to see the change reflected in reality, not just on an invoice.
Speedtest is still useful without an account. Use the mobile apps to test on your smartphone (iOS, Android). It determines your location and connects you to a local Speedtest server. All you have to do is click on the "Go" button. The entire process should take less than a minute to complete, and you will see it being played in real time.
After viewing, see the connection's upload and download speeds measured in megabits per second (Mbps). You have the opportunity to share the information via social media by clicking on the buttons at the top of social media . There is also a chain icon to grab a link that you can send anywhere, like a picture or web link or even embed on a page just like this:
Run the test a few times by clicking "Go" button over and over again – you will see fluctuations in the data rate from test to test, depending on the network load at a given time.
Once you have run it a couple of times, put these numbers in context: click on the "Results" link. Even without an account, Speedtest can let you compare your results with global average speeds. Click on the tab to switch from download to upload speed. If you used more than one connection (say you went from a hotspot at home and ran tests in both places) or use more than one connection server, click "Filter Results" to narrow down which tests / servers you want to see. 
To compare your speed with the rest of the world, go to the Speedtest Global Index, which offers average throughput for mobile and landline broadband connections worldwide. Many Internet service providers run a version of Speedtest on their own servers to test customer connections. These tests become part of the Speedtest dataset, which is used to create Global Index and other things. For example, we used global datasets to determine Wi-Fi fastest free Nationwide.
Other Speed Options
Speedtest is not the only game in the city to measure internet connections. There are others worth a try, and the more you test, the better your options are when contacting an ISP complaining about your nominal rate.
Netflix, for example, who has an interest in ensuring that the internet is used by the customers is lightning fast – has its own quick test. Visit FAST.com and you don't even have to click a button. It starts an instant download speed test. You can click for more results, get latency and upload test results and share data directly on Facebook or Twitter. With FAST.com, however, you cannot choose the server you are testing against. There is also a quick fast test app for iOS and Android.
SpeedOf.Me does not look as polished as Speedtest or Fast.com, but many would argue that as a sales site. This zippy little test works on mobile devices and on the desktop, offers a story at the bottom if you run multiple tests and provides an "instant look" graphic because the test runs multiple passes for download and upload. It has 116 servers (and counts) across North America, Europe, Asia, South America and a couple in Australia. It chooses the fastest for you, not necessarily the closest server.
Google's test is run by the Measurement Lab (M-Lab), but the results are the usual download and upload speed without tracking or adjusting the settings.
Did you get a favorite internet speed tool that we missed? Let us know in the comments.