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What is Network Throughput?

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Network throughput is the data per second that can be transferred by a network connection at a point in time.


Network throughput is commonly measured with the following units.
gigabits per second
billion bits per second
megabits per second
million bits per second
kilobits per second
thousand bits per second
It is also common to measure throughput in gigabytes, megabytes and kilobytes. This uses slightly different notation: GBps, MBps and KBps. A byte is 8 times larger than a bit. As such, throughput of 1 GBps is eight times faster than 1 Gbps.

Upload vs Download

An upload is data that travels from your connection out. A download is data that travels inbound to you. It is common for upload throughput and download throughput to be very different. Home internet connections may have upload speeds capped at a relatively low bandwidth to prevent home users from using their connection as a server.

Throughput vs Bandwidth

Bandwidth is a maximum data transfer rate based on the capabilities of your equipment and connection. Throughput is the actual data transfer rate. Normally throughput is lower than bandwidth. When a network is busy or experiencing errors, throughput can be significantly lower than bandwidth.

Throughput vs Latency

Latency is the time it takes for a network request to receive an initial response. This can be thought of as travel time whereas throughput is travel capacity. If your network connection was an airplane, latency is the time to get to your destination and back. Throughput is the number of passengers and amount of luggage the airplane can carry.


There are many tools available to monitor your current network throughput. In many cases, these tools are built into an operating system and are installed by default. For example, your current throughput may be displayed if your view your connection or connection adapter on some devices. In order to measure your maximum throughput, it is necessary to make your connection extremely busy by downloading many things at the same time. There are websites and apps available that can use up your connection and estimate your throughput.

Low Throughput

There are several common reasons for a low throughput rate:
Low bandwidth connections due to the limitations of infrastructure.
Bandwidth Cap
Your bandwidth may be capped by your internet provider.
Quality of Service
Your internet provider may prioritize some types of traffic on your network and slow down other types of traffic. This strategy is often referred to as "quality of service" or "service levels" by telecom firms. This may be restricted by net neutrality rules, depending on your location.
A network that is busy typically has lower throughput. As such, your internet connection may have low throughput during peak hours.
Networks experiencing errors such as lost packets will have reduced throughput.
Information Security
If your internet connection is slow but a monitoring tool indicates you are using a great deal of bandwidth, malicious or broken software on your device may be using up your connection.
Overview: Network Throughput
The data per second that can be transferred by a network connection at a point in time.
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