What Is a Good Download Speed and Upload Speed?

Solid internet speeds are generally thought of to be at least 100 Mbps for downloads and 20 Mbps for uploads.
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Whether or not your internet connection download and upload speeds are considered "fast internet" is determined by many factors, including:

  • The types of connectivity lines your internet service provider (ISP) uses to bring internet to your location, such as fiber, DSL, or satellite.
  • Using an Ethernet cable versus Wi-Fi inside the home.
  • The age and type of router you’re using.

The way you use your internet also affects its speeds in a positive or negative way. For example, if you have many types of devices competing for your network bandwidth, the overall internet speed will likely be lower.

Find out more about the main factors that affect your download and upload speeds and learn some troubleshooting tips in case you're dealing with the effects of slow internet speeds.

Is data throttling affecting your download and upload speeds? If so, we recommend using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your web traffic to keep it private from your ISP, which helps prevent throttling. We've compiled a list of the best VPNs as a starting point.

In this article
What is a good download speed?
What is a good upload speed?
Download speed vs. upload speed: which is more important?
Why is my upload speed so slow?
What is a good download and upload speed for my internet?
Upload vs. download speed FAQs
Bottom line

What is a good download speed?

While “good” download speeds have varied in number over the past couple of decades, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) most recently made a recommendation for 100 Mbps download speeds. That should support a family of three to four people and provide a decent overall speed.  

If your family uses the internet for work and recreational activities, you may find that your download speeds vary depending on the time of day and the types of online activities that are drawing on your network.

Consider an average family of four and their usage patterns. One adult may use the internet for streaming video, while another is shopping online. One child may be playing video games with friends while another is updating various social media apps.

Also, don’t forget all those smart appliances that are “talking” to one another in the background. Every device that is connected to your network eats away at your available bandwidth, so the more devices that are connected, the greater the strain on speeds.

It’s a good practice to secure more speed than you think you will need to account for unknown factors such as network latency, geographical location, distance between your router and your devices, wireless interference, network slowdowns, and more.

If your router is several years old, upgrading to a new model may also benefit your performance because running an older router can negatively affect your upload and download speeds.

It's a good idea to start with an internet speed test to find out what download and upload speeds you're getting right now and whether they're fast enough.

What is a good upload speed?

Uploads are normally not used as much as downloads for the average family. The exception to this rule is if you create a lot of files and documents for work that require uploads to your organization’s network.

For example, a large video file may take several minutes or even hours to upload if your speeds are slow. Additionally, continually sending smaller-sized files could potentially result in slower speeds.

A good upload speed — as estimated by the FCC’s recent recommendations for raising broadband minimums — is 20 Mbps or more.

What is upload speed used for?

Upload speeds play a bigger role than most people think. They differ from downloads, as they solely determine how fast or slow you can send or upload data such as files, pictures, graphics, and videos. They also determine performance speeds for video conferencing (think Zoom or Skype), multiplayer online gaming, and VoIP calls.

Your upload speed will affect how others see and hear you over video conferencing platforms or gaming systems. If your upload speed is below average, your video appearance and spoken words may appear distorted or jumbled.

Consult the chart below for an illustration of upload speeds and the associated times:

Upload speed Time to upload a 1.5 GB YouTube video
5 Mbps 42 minutes 56 seconds
10 Mbps 21 minutes 28 seconds
30 Mbps 7 minutes 9 seconds
100 Mbps 2 minutes 8 seconds
500 Mbps 25 seconds
1 Gbps 12 seconds

You can use this upload speed calculator to determine times for various file size uploads and get a better idea of how much upload speed you might need.

Ready to hop in a video chat? Keep in mind you'll need more upload speed to use HD video quality than you would need for SD.

Download speed vs. upload speed: which is more important?

Determining which speed is more important will depend on what your primary use will be. For most people, downloads are used far more often, as people tend to use the internet to stream movies, music, games, and more.

Keep in mind download speeds may also affect your TV show’s picture and sound quality. So if your household streams movies or TV shows, then download speed will likely be more important.

But if your work responsibilities dictate you’ll be uploading work files, videos, pictures, graphics, and documents, then your upload speed should be the primary factor to consider as it will be more important for you.

For example, consider how many files a certified public accountant (CPA) sends year after year from January through mid-April when taxes are due. Even though the files are relatively small and consist of financial data, forms, and signature documents used for electronic filing, uploading hundreds or even thousands of files could put a strain on the network if your upload speeds are subpar.

To ensure your home network is protected against online threats, consider adding VPN security into the mix to protect your data and help ensure compliance if your job requires handling sensitive customer financial data. Here are some of the best VPNs for privacy:
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  • ExpressVPN: ExpressVPN has a premium price tag, but it provides premium privacy. It comes with industry-standard, like a kill switch and split tunneling, but it also offers its proprietary Lightway protocol for quick and secure connections.
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Why is my upload speed so slow?

If you’re experiencing excessive freezing and lagging on your video conferences, then your upload speeds are likely subpar, but the main problem could be the internet plan you selected from your provider.

Many times, internet providers advertise upload speeds that are actually about one-tenth of their advertised download speed. If your internet provider promotes download speeds of 100 Mbps, then your upload speed may be closer to 10 Mbps during peak times.

The best way to fix this problem is to change your plan to one that offers a higher upload speed than you're currently getting. You could also check for a fiber internet plan in your area, since fiber plans typically come with symmetrical, or matching, download and upload speeds.

Some additional causes of slow upload speeds with possible solutions are:

  • Your wireless network is inefficient for the amount of uploads you initiate. Switching to a wired Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi will yield faster speeds.
  • Multiple uploads are occurring at the same time. Stagger uploads at different times to avoid simultaneous interference — especially if you’re uploading large files.
  • You hit your monthly data cap. Monitor your activity to keep track of your data usage to avoid going over your cap or upgrade your plan to one that offers a higher data cap or no cap at all.

What is a good download and upload speed for my internet?

Most download and upload speeds will vary depending on the connection type you have. If you’re subscribed to a fiber internet plan, like those offered by AT&T Fiber or Verizon Fios, your download and upload speeds are usually symmetrical, which results in superior performance.

Depending on who you ask, most internet speeds of 200 Mbps or more are considered very fast. Additionally, some areas where service providers operate have advanced networks with premium service options with speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. Most families don’t need these highest speeds mainly because they can operate just fine with lower speeds that more closely match their needs at a lower price point.

Most households can thrive with 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload speeds, but yours may require more bandwidth to handle all the devices connected to your network. Refer to the chart below to find a speed that will match your desired performance.

Connection type Download speed range Upload speed range
Fiber 5 Mbps–5 Gbps 5 Mbps–5 Gbps
Cable 20–1,200 Mbps 5-50 Mbps
5G home internet 33–300 Mbps 6-50 Mbps
Fixed wireless 10–50 Mbps 25–50 Mbps
DSL 1–100 Mbps 256 Kbps–100 Mbps
Satellite 12–500 Mbps 1–3 Mbps

Q. How many Mbps are in 1 Gbps?

A. 1,000 Mbps equal 1 Gbps. Some of the common ways to describe Gbps include gig, gigabit speed, gig speed, and Gbit.

Upload vs. download speed FAQs


Why is uploading slower than downloading?

Uploading is usually slower than downloading because most high-speed internet connections are designed asymmetrically with download speeds prioritized over upload speeds.

This is because most people download more than they upload. There are many media outlets that produce content that’s available through internet downloads, such as Netflix and Spotify, and there just aren’t as many individuals uploading content files as there are downloading media content.


How do I know if I need better internet speeds?

If you experience movies, music files, or images taking forever to download — or they buffer, fade, or load inch by inch — your internet plan may need to be upgraded.


Is it better to have faster upload or download speed?

Whether it’s better to have faster upload or download speed depends on what your primary usage will be. If you’re like most people and tend to download more files than upload, then you want faster download speeds.

This is especially true if you stream movies or TV shows, participate in online gaming tournaments, or have a lot of devices clamoring for space on your network.

On the other hand, if your work needs to be prioritized, and you regularly upload large video, data, and graphic files — along with hosting or participating in video conferences — then you’ll need faster uploading speeds.

The solution that solves the most problems is selecting a fiber internet plan. Because of its symmetrical speeds, uploads and downloads are completed in the same time frame.


Is 10 Mbps upload speed good?

10 Mbps is a decent upload speed, but you might be able to find a faster upload speed. An upload speed of 20 Mbps or more will provide better overall performance.


How can I boost my upload speed?

Transitioning from wireless to a wired connection, lessening the amount of devices connected to your network, or uploading files during off-peak times can all boost your upload speeds.

If you must keep your wireless connection, moving your router to a higher spot or repositioning the antennas may also help. And upgrading to a mesh router system can provide improved connectivity and performance.

Bottom line

As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And for internet speeds, the beauty will only last as long as your desired speeds match your upload versus download demands.

If your budget or location won’t allow you to secure a fiber connection with symmetrical speeds for both uploading and downloading, try to find a plan that offers better-than-average speeds without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that you’re likely aiming for download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps.

But don’t settle for upload speeds that won’t cover your business needs, especially if your job requires creating and uploading large content files that tend to hog your available bandwidth. It’s better to have a little more speed at your disposal than not enough.

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Author Details
Juliana Kenny is a seasoned writer with over 14 years of experience writing for cybersecurity topics. Holding a B.A. in both English and French, her work explores the convergence of security and technology. She specializes in endpoint security, cloud security, and networking technologies like secure access service edge (SASE).