The Difference Between iPerf and Speedtest Network Tests

If there’s one thing we all want more of, it’s fast internet.  In fact, speed is one of the most important things used to measure network performance. So, how do you test it?

What is commonly referred to as speed, is often technically called throughput. Throughput tells you how much data was “effectively” transferred between two points in a given time.  The faster the packets travel, the more information that can be sent within a certain timeframe.  Slow throughput means  a slow network, which can lead to lagging applications and unhappy users.

To test your network’s throughput, we recommend using the iPerf and Speedtest network tests. Both of these tests require two devices: a client  (for example, a laptop, phone, or tablet)  and a server. The main difference between the two programs is that  Speedtest does not require a “Speedtest Server” to be set up – it rather automatically chooses  a server on the internet. On the other hand,  iPerf requires an endpoint program that must be installed on a separate server, typically on your own network.  Both tests are useful for understanding  network performance as each one tells you something different.

Speedtest

This program measures the throughput between a client device (like a laptop or phone) and a server on the internet.  It will return three pieces of information: download speed; upload speed; and ping response time. A ping is a signal sent to measure the time it takes data to travel from a device on one network to another network.

It’s good to remember that your throughput is limited by your firewall and your internet connection, and a host of other factors not under your control.  For example, you might be using a Wireless Access Point (AP) that supports 500Mbps and so that’s the number that you expect to see after running a Speedtest.  Well, if your internet pipe is only 100Mbps, that is the maximum throughput that will be returned.  This isn’t a sign that your AP is malfunctioning, it’s simply an effect of the wider network ecosystem.

iPerf

This program is generally used to measure the throughput of devices that are exclusively within your network – no traveling to an external server.  If you wanted to measure the throughput between your WiFi infrastructure and a fileserver, you would put the iPerf endpoint on the same network as the file server and run the test.  The resulting data gives you a good idea of the throughput of that link.  iPerf allows an administrator to get a detailed understanding of how the network is performing, and pinpoint any throughput issues to specific servers.

Wyebot’s  Wireless Intelligence Platform (WIP) solution can run both iPerf and Speedtest.  When running an iPerf test, the sensor can connect to your iPerf sensor if you have one setup.  If not, WIP will use a second Wyebot sensor to act as the iPerf server and run the test between the two sensors.  This greatly simplifies the set-up of an iPerf test, making it easy for anyone to run.

iPerf and Speedtest are only two of the many tests supported by the Wyebot WIP Synthetic Network Test Suite.  Use the Network Test Suite today to remotely diagnose and troubleshoot issues, improving network reliability and performance.

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