Uploads vs downloads: What's the difference and why does it matter?

Discover how faster Full Fibre internet speeds could change your life

The need for broadband speed is more apparent than ever. Whether you're a professional, a student, or a hardcore gamer, the pace at which data zips around the web can make or break your online experience. So what’s the difference between upload speeds and download speeds, what do the terms mean, and why does it matter? 

What is download speed? 

Imagine your internet connection as a river. Download speeds are like the flow of water downstream towards your house. The faster the flow, the quicker you can collect water, or in the case of the internet, data.   

In the digital world, the speed at which data flows is typically measured in Mbps (megabits per second) although the dawn of FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) broadband means even ultra-fast Gbps (gigabits per second) speeds are achievable.    

Faster download speeds will elevate your internet experience, from streaming Netflix shows in the highest quality to downloading big files in next to no time and delivering silky smooth online gaming. Everything loads quicker than a cheetah on roller skates.  

What is upload speed? 

Picture the flow of a river going upstream away from your house. The faster the water carries something away, that’s your upload speed. Faster upload speeds allow you to efficiently send your own contributions to the outside world – emails, social media posts, video calls – in the quickest and smoothest manner possible. 

While the focus tends to usually be on the fastest download speeds available in your area, upload speeds can be equally important. How else are you going to know if friends find your dog videos funny?   

The differences between upload and download speed  

As we've established, download speed is all about data flowing from the internet to your computer, while upload speed is the opposite, with data moving from your computer to the internet. It's like a two-way street, but one lane is busier than the other. 

Download speed is vital for streaming services like BBC iPlayer and Netflix, for reading email attachments, using apps like Google Docs, and online gaming. Meanwhile, upload speeds are crucial for video calls, sending email attachments, and posting to social media.   

In essence, download speed feeds your entertainment and information cravings, while upload speed empowers your ability to contribute and communicate online. So no matter what your work or lifestyle choices, a strong balance of both is required. 

For example, home workers rely on upload speed for seamless video conferencing and file sharing. Students need it for online classes and project collaboration. Gamers demand both fast download and upload speeds for lag-free gaming experiences. 

Voneus fibre customers enjoy something called symmetrical download and upload speeds, meaning both directions operate at the same rate. However, many of you are stuck with asymmetrical speeds, where downloads often take the lead. 

We know this is a lot to take in, so if you’re unsure of any of the terms you can always refer back to the Voneus guide to busting broadband jargon. 

Five tips for improving download speed  

  1. Position your router wisely: Place your router in a central location in your home to ensure a strong and even signal throughout. Avoid obstructions like walls or large metal objects that can interfere with the signal.
  2. Update your router: Ensure your router is using the latest firmware or software updates. Outdated equipment can limit your internet speed.
  3. Limit background activities: If multiple devices are using your internet connection for bandwidth-intensive tasks (e.g., streaming, large downloads), it can slow down your download speeds. Try to limit these activities when you need a faster connection.
  4. Check for interference: Other electronic devices, like microwave ovens or cordless phones, can interfere with Wi-Fi signals. Make sure your router operates on a less congested Wi-Fi channel and reduce interference by positioning the router away from such devices.
  5. Upgrade to FTTP: Upgrading to a lightning-fast FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) internet connection with Voneus Broadband offers speeds of up to 1 Gbps and the plans may even be cheaper than what you’re paying now. 

Five tips for improving upload speeds 

  1. Get a VPN: A VPN (virtual private network) can improve your upload speed by optimising your internet connection. It can help bypass congestion and reduce lag, resulting in faster uploads. There are plenty of apps to choose from, such as Express VPN and NordVPN.
  2. Clear cookies: Over time, your web browser accumulates cookies, cache, and browsing history that can slow down your internet connection. Clearing these digital breadcrumbs can enhance your upload speed. 
  3. Check for viruses and malware: Malicious software can eat up your bandwidth and slow down your upload speed. Regularly scan your computer for viruses and malware to keep your connection in top shape.
  4. Restart your router: Sometimes, all it takes is switching it off and on again. Unplug your router, wait a few seconds, and plug it back in to give your internet a little kickstart.
  5. Use an Ethernet cable: If you're tired of inconsistent Wi-Fi, consider using a wired connection. Ethernet cables can offer faster and more stable upload speeds compared to Wi-Fi.  

What is a good download and upload speed? 

How long is a piece of string? Good upload and download speeds vary depending on your specific needs and usage patterns, but as a guideline don’t settle for any less than download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 10-20 Mbps.  

The thing is, our dependency on online services and the internet is growing every day. So if you want to do multiple tasks at once, run a business, or live in a large household, you’re going to want high-speed internet.  

It’s one of the reasons Voneus Broadband offers full fibre FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) internet with speeds of up to 1 Gbps. That way you’re covered for coping with the online demands of today, tomorrow and your future needs. 

Published 13/12/23