The amount of data required by a speed test depends on the speed test used and on the internet speed you measure.
Research shows that, at least up to 200 Mbps, in most speed tests the amount of data used is directly proportional to the measured download speed.
Of the accurate speed tests, Cloudflare the Ookla Speedtest use a relatively large amount of data (at least for lower speeds). Google Fiber and TestMy.net, on the other hand, use relatively little data. While all these speed tests are approximately equally accurate.
The speed test that uses the least data by far is Internet Speed at a Glance.
Data use per speed test per measured speed
A meta-analysis of data from seven different tests (100 mbps, 200 mbps, WiFi-b, WiFi-g, WiFi-n, WiFi b-g-n and WiFi ac) shows that the amount of data needed for a speed test in most cases depends on the speed test used and the measured internet speed.
The graph below shows how much data is used in a speed test at different speeds for a number of speed tests.
Note that in the graph above is based on the average number of MB's (megabytes) used per Mbps (megabits per second).
Also note that we were able to do speed tests up to a download speed of 200 Mbps.
Some examples of measured values
The graph above gives only an indication based. In practice, other values will apply. For example, see the following purely measurement-based charts (note that the measured download data is in mebibytes (MiBs)).
This is because all measurements are done with the live option of vnstat, and vnstat gives the results in mebibytes.
M-Lab has a very consistent MiBs per Mbps ratio.
Ookla has a relatively constant MiBs per Mbps ratio.
Cloudflare's MiBs per Mbps ratio varies depending on the measured speed. Note that this data is based before Cloudflare stated that a speed test can consume up to 200 MB of data.
TestMy.net has a clear upper limit and hardly sends any data during the download test.
Note that these findings are based on our measurements where the max download speed is 200 Mbps. We know nothing about the data hunger of speed tests above 200 Mbps.
- Internet Speed at a Glance clearly needs the least data to determine your download speed
- Up to a download speed of 120 Mbps, Google Fiber and TestMy.net are the most accurate speed tests with the least data consumption
- From a download speed of 120 Mbps, TestMy.net is the most accurate speed test with the least data consumption
- Depending on the measured speed, the differences in the amount of data used between the speed tests can differ by a factor of 2.5 to 5
- There appears to be (apart from Internet Speed at a Glance) an inverse correlation between the accuracy of the speed test and the amount of data used. Google Fiber, M-Lab and TestMy.net are very accurate speed tests but use relatively little data for a test
- We found that there are seven speed tests that have an upper limit on the number of MBs downloaded. This includes the following speed tests: