Saturday, July 17, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [July 16th]” plus 8 more “Cool Websites and Tools [July 16th]” plus 8 more

Link to

Cool Websites and Tools [July 16th]

Posted: 16 Jul 2010 08:31 PM PDT

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE (or come with a decent free account option). No trials or buy-to-use craplets. For more cool websites and web app reviews subscribe to MakeUseOf Directory.

List Your Website Here!


GoneGoogle – Google recently released a pretty interesting online calculator that helps you calculate the total savings for your business if you decide to ditch Microsoft tools like Office, Outlook and other such services for Google apps. Read more: GoneGoogle: Check Your Company's Savings When You Switch to Google Apps.


urlist – is a brilliant website that makes sharing internet links even easier. Normally on your social networking accounts, you cannot share a bunch of URLs together; with urlist however, you can make a collection of weblinks and share them all in one go. Read more: urlist: Create & Share Your List of Links.



Veezzle – If you regularly search for free high quality stock photos, Veezzle is worth checking out. It is a dead simple search engine that crawls multiple free stock photo resources so you can find and download them easily. Just enter the keywords you want to search for and Veezzle will display a number of results collected from different sites. Read more: Veezzle: Search Multiple Free Stock Photo Resources At Once.



WhiteyBoard – Although I come across many new tools and products on the web everyday, I have to admit, only some of them are innovative enough to make me go wow. Whiteyboard is certainly one of them. As the name suggests, it is a simple stick-on whiteboard that you can quickly stick on a wall anywhere you need it. Read more: WhiteyBoard: Cool Stick-On Whiteboards.



Lipsum – is a lorem ipsum dummy content generator that lets you create dummy text. The site gives you variable parameters to achieve the most suitable text for your website design prototyping. Read more: Lipsum: Lorem Ipsum Dummy Content Generator.


List Your Website Here!

These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf page on Facebook. Over 24,000 fans already!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

The 5 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 16 Jul 2010 06:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf AnswersThis Friday the winner of MakeUseOf Answers’ Best Answer of the Week is Smokey99 for his answer to this question: “How can I open a Word file that shows a "converter mswrd 632″ error?” Congratulations and thank you very much for continuing to provide great answers!

Anyone can win $50 in our Best Answer of the Week contest. Just go ahead, answer questions and provide a valid email address or sign in with your Facebook account.

Here are your best questions of the past week:

  1. Is a Mac harder to use than a Windows PC?
  2. Can you recommend an ISO file creator?
  3. Can you please point me to some web design tutorials?
  4. How can I convert Word documents to EPUB or PDF?
  5. Can you help me with software and website recommendations related to short movies?

For more questions you never dared to ask, browse MakeUseOf Answers. You can view Latest Questions, Unanswered Questions or Most Popular Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask us at MakeUseOf Answers! Free, no signup, no spam.

NEW: Download MakeUseOf iPhone App. FREE!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Top 5 Sites to Help You Find Apps for Your Android Phone

Posted: 16 Jul 2010 04:30 PM PDT

One thing that Google likes to be known for is speed. In fact, their Android phones have taken off so fast that they have yet to release a full-featured app store to the public. While their current Android Market serves its purpose, it’s hardly iTunes. The organization and efficiency with which Apple runs its app store is one of the reasons the iPhone is the most popular phone on the market year in and year out.

I don’t imagine it will take Google very long to catch up (I did say they were fast), but until then, it would be nice to have some alternatives to finding killer apps for your Android phone.

In this article, I am going to share the top websites for finding the best Android applications. These sites should hold you over until Google releases their app store to the public.

[Note]: If you aren’t impressed by any of the apps you find in the Android Market, why don’t you try writing your own? Who knows, your app could end up on these websites in the near future.

Android Market

The current Android Market is a good place to start. As you’ll see, there isn’t too much organization here, but the site does display all of the top ranked applications and games. You can click on the Top Free tab, which allows you to view all of the top free apps by their respective categories.

Clicking on an app will display screenshots of it off to the right, as well as a small description of the application and the name of its developer(s). I’d assume that this would be the location of the future Google app store, but it’s hard to assume anything like that with Google.


Android Zoom is an even better alternative to the current Android Market in my opinion. Paul covered AndroidZoom in his 6 Android Websites You Should Check Out article back in January. (Also see AndroLib)

With AndroidZoom, you can view all of the latest Android applications and sort them by the newest, most popular, and highest rated. You can also separate them by free and paid, along with selecting from the different categories on the left-hand side of the page.

Click on an app and you are taken to a screen where you can view a short description, see related apps, and download. When you click Download, you are taken to a page that gives you three options.

You can use a QR code scanner and take a picture of the image (with your phone) to download the app, follow directions to manually install from the Android Market, or receive a direct download link on your phone’s email.


Cyrket provides application statistics for all of the apps in the Android Market. The default sort method is alphabetical, so don’t let it scare you when you visit the page and only see Chinese symbols. You can sort the listings by most expensive, least expensive, popularity, and highest rating. You can also opt to see only the free apps.

When you click on an app, you are taken to a screen with the app’s description, screenshots, and a long thread of users’ comments that you can use to get feedback.

101 Best Android Apps

101 Best Android Apps is another great place to get information and ratings on a lot of Android applications. Apps are sorted by many different categories (e.g. Business, Education) and topics (e.g. Music, News) and you can choose to see the best rated apps by day, week, month, or all time.

The site allows you to rate apps and it provides very nice, large screenshots. If you click more info, you can view a few more screen shots, a description, and comments.


AppBrain has lists and lists of Android apps. You can view all the hottest apps, the latest ones, or pick your favorite categories. Reviews and download information accompany the apps and you can utilize the search feature to find what you’re looking for.

If you create an account on AppBrain (links your Google account), you can enjoy added benefits. With an account, you can easily install and manage your apps directly from the web browser, sync your apps easily with their native Android app, and share the apps installed on your phone with your friends.

What do you think of the sites listed? Did I forget any? Will you be utilizing any of these resources for your Android application needs? Leave your thoughts, ideas, and comments below!

Image Credit: lwallenstein

NEW: Download MakeUseOf iPhone App. FREE!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

How To Create An Image Map Using Paint.NET

Posted: 16 Jul 2010 02:31 PM PDT

I wrote an article about how to create an image for your website with clickable regions or hotspots using GIMP.  This kind of clickable image is called an image map.  Image maps have been around for a while but they are still widely used to give web designers flexibility.

In the comments someone asked me if this was possible to do using Paint.NET (can it be a Photoshop alternative?).  For this reason I set out to not only install and use Paint.NET for the first time, but to figure out how to do image maps using it.

Yes, I did have to leave Ubuntu for a few minutes and boot into my Windows installation (I know there’s an Ubuntu version but I wasn’t sure if everything would work the same) but it was worth the change of pace.

The conclusion I came to was that yes, it is possible but you’ll need the help of a plugin.

Download & Install The Plugin

Plugins are fairly easy to implement in Paint.NET and it basically consists of downloading the files and putting them in the correct folder.  The plugin needed in order to make an image map is called “Create Image Map” and you can download it from this link.  The page is a bit messy so check out the screenshot below to find it easily.

You’ll be downloading a zip file containing the correct files.  Once downloaded, just put them into here: C/Program Files/Paint.NET/Effects

Now just restart Paint.NET and you should have it installed. Open the image and you should be all set.

Use The Image Map Editor To Get The Right Code

Open the image map editor: Effects -> Image Application -> Create Image Map

Drag (pretending you are seeing a box) and name each hotspot.

Click OK when finished.  You will then get a pop-up with some code you will need to grab.

Edit The Code & Get It Ready For Your Site

Open Notepad or a similar text editor and paste the code.  You’ll probably end up with all of the code on one line.  The easiest way is to separate the lines the way I did in the screenshot below.

Notice that I added a line of code at the top.  This line of code specifies where the image is located on the server (you did upload it right?) and the name of the map being used over the image.

You’ll also notice that I named the map.  In order to tie the image to the map, you will need to do that.  Also replace the “#” signs with URLs of the links you want inserted.

So yes, there is another way to make an image map.  It’s also possible to do by hand without the help of an image editing program but who has the time for that?

What do you use to make image maps?

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

FrameChannel – Perfect Media Browsing for the iPad

Posted: 16 Jul 2010 12:30 PM PDT

media available for ipadIf browsing and consuming media is what you do on your iPad, you probably want to check out Thinking Screen Media's iPad application [iTunes Store link] and website, FrameChannel.

FrameChannel is like having a 1000+ applications or widgets stuffed and available in a single application or website. It sort of works like iGoogle in which you build a personal collection of feeds and widgets for all types of media you consume on your ipad.

Categories for channels include social networking sites, news and weather, education, sports and entertainment, photography, and custom RSS feeds—all supported by platforms including Flash, Android, iPhone OS, Linux, HTML 5 and more.

ipod media

As Thinking Screen Media points out, "Content comes from top brands in every category, from major national and international sports scores, news and standings to breaking news headlines, entertainment updates, stock quotes, traffic, trivia and much more. We also keep users up-to-date on their favorite blogs and websites." Literally thousands of channels are already configured for you on FrameChannel. They include sites like Facebook, Picasa, the Boston Red Sox, Time Magazine, and Woot Wine. The more you dig, the more channels you discover with media available for ipad.

media available for ipad

All you have to do is pick and choose the channels you want on your personal channel home page. You can make these selections via your account on your computer or on your iPad. Since your account is the cloud so to speak, whatever additions and deletions you make on you computer will automatically be applied to the application on your iPad, and visa versa.

The interface of FrameChannel is clean and fairly easy to use—only requiring you to make a few configurations, such as adding log-in information if needed, and then tapping the add to my channel button.

For example, you can add say, your Flickr account and download selected galleries. The same goes for your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

ipod media

ipod media

You can also quickly add photo files to your account via your computer, which when uploaded will appear on your iPad device. This is just another way to add and view your photos on your iPad without having to connect the device to our computer.

The only drawback to this photo sync feature is that you can't download and add photos from your FrameChannel account to your iPad photo library.

There are also some limited customization features in FrameChannel.

For example, you can of course add and remove channels from your home page. You can customize the day and time that you want content downloaded, and you can prioritize the amount of content you want for a selected channel relative to other channels.

Unfortunately, however, you can't move channels around. They are placed in the order you added them.

Add Your Own Channel

While you can add your own custom RSS feeds to your channels, you can also submit a form to add your own RSS-based content channel to the service platform that will then be available to other users.

media available for ipad

FrameChannel and its iPad companion are really useful apps for media consumers and content providers. Let us know if you use it and what you think of them.

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

8 Tools That Will Make You a Procrastination Ninja at Work

Posted: 16 Jul 2010 11:30 AM PDT

procrastination toolsUnarguably, the best way to beat work at the office is to take a power nap. Or buy an iPhone. Procrastinating at work should be in the HR policy. It's good for morale and a wonderful stress buster. But alas, there are some offices where even putting your feet up could get you a pink slip.

Twiddling your thumbs or playing Solitaire is old fashioned. Especially when procrastinating at work has entered the dictionary with words like cyberslacking. Some call it goldbricking or simply sitting on one's butt.

Wasting time at work will remain the most popular office activity after water-cooler gossip. So it pays to do two things in the digital age.

First, win over the IT admin guy who monitors the internet traffic. Second, learn how to optimize your time-wasting with the help of a few web-based procrastination tools. I can't help you with the former, but for the latter, here are eight tools to make you a procrastination ninja at work.

Hide Running Programs Quickly

how to procrastinate

Quicksilver fingers using the Alt-Tab key combination is the easiest way to switch windows. It's really is important if you are wasting time on one application and your boss is approaching.

But if you fingers slip, there's a free lightweight app called OuttaSight which helps you hide open windows completely, or minimize them as an icon to the system tray (its hotkey is aptly named the Boss Key). We have mentioned the free software before in more detail.

Our readers helped us out with a few more suggestions. Check out Mr. Hyde and Hocus Pocus.

If you want to keep the inappropriate sites out of sight in Firefox, check out the hideBad and Panic Firefox add-ons for managing browser tabs.

While Away Time with Proxy Browsing

how to procrastinate

We have covered a lot of ground on proxy servers and unblocking your favorite websites while at school or work. Here's the complete list of posts on getting past firewalls at work. Another great list on privacy tools is available at EPIC Online Guide to Practical Privacy Tools.

And Do it Behind VANISHD

procrastination tools

The idea is to browse the web without others seeing what you are up to. Regain your office privacy by using VANISHD to cover your original browsing window behind a disguise. The covering 'disguise' is another webpage (or any of the MS Office apps) that for all intents and purposes is harmless. Like your company homepage or a presentation you are working on. The neat trick is that you can use a smaller viewing window to see what's on the hidden window by dragging it over the covering window. Watch the demo video below or read more about it in our directory.

Tweet Away To Glory At Work

The easiest way would be to tweet via your cell phone. But for the browser based ones, here are two workarounds.

how to procrastinate

SpreadTweet is an online application that makes your Twitter account look like a spreadsheet. There's also a desktop version which runs on Adobe Air. You can give it the look of Office OS X, Office 2003, or Office 2007.

TweetSwitch is an online app that lets you tweet and receive your tweets from any instant messenger or via email. You need to log-in at TweetSwitch and add the accounts on which you would like to receive your tweets.

Using the Twitter at work while cocking a snook at the restrictions is easy because of the sheer number of third party Twitter apps available. I have covered just two.

Online Video Watching with Double Vision

procrastination tools

Double Vision Lite is a free (but ad-supported) browser that lets you watch online videos (YouTube, Hulu, NetFlix etc) while doing other work. The trick it employs is a customizable transparency setting that can fade in and fade out the Double Vision window. You can set the transparency and watch a video and work on an application that's below it. Double Vision also functions like a regular browser so browser based video conferencing and other tasks can be easily done. You can also use the CTRL+ESC key to quickly hide the browser.

P:S – You might need admin privileges to install this on your machine. Always a problem at an office.

Can't You See I'm Busy

ways to procrastinate

Can't You See I'm Busy is a very unique website that we have covered earlier. But it deserves a place of its own here because it has 3 games that will make it seem like you are working on serious things like Excel spreadsheets, writing reports, or evaluating the company's growth.

Of course, there's a lot of casual game fun to have on Google Search too.

Do Some Blog Work with MS Word & Email

ways to procrastinate

Nobody is going to give a second glance if you have MS Word open on your desktop. They will if you have Windows Live Writer or anything else opened up. So, why not use MS Word to post your blog posts from office as we showed you in Using MS Word 2007 for Fast and Easy Blogging.

You can also use email to post to your blog. Microblogging with Posterous and Tumblr for instance is dead easy, while Wordpress needs a bit of configuration.

Also read: 5 Popular Sites That You Can Update via Email from Your Mobile

Daily Dose of Reading

procrastination tools

DailyLit is a web service that delivers a small excerpt serially from the book of your choice to your email, mobile, or RSS feed. One passage per day, till the book is finished. Read a bit more on it here.

Just how concerned we are with your not getting caught while you goof off is amply demonstrated with these three guilt-free posts:

Don't worry; a cyberslacking petition is on its way! Till then, let us know your favorite ninja technique to give the run around to your boss.

Image credit: L-T-L

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Publisha – A Universal Blogging and Publishing Alternative To Wordpress

Posted: 16 Jul 2010 10:30 AM PDT

alternative to wordpressThere is no right way to go about something. Especially when we’re talking about digital and print publications. Don’t believe me? Go to a magazine store and pick up a couple of random issues.

For a while, WordPress has been the go-to guy for blogging. This status quo is frequently challenged by fresh alternatives. One of those alternatives is Publisha.

In short, Publisha allows you to easily set up your own blog, with a minimum of technical knowledge and maintenance. It comes packed with a number of interesting features, and allows you to easily reach to though demographics on Facebook and the iPhone/iPad as well.


On a mighty superficial level, Publisha might be considered an alternative to WordPress. At the very least, they’ve got the same goal; to help you reach other people. To do so, Publisha also helps you set up your own blog. This blog is hosted on their own servers, and people can find you via your free subdomain, e.g. Of course, you can also link the blog to your own subdomain.

blogging alternatives

Articles are written in the built-in WYSIWYG editor. The tool is simple, but sufficient, and will grant all but the most needy a good place to write. This, too, feels very familiar to an ex-WordPress user. Of course, such a thing can be expected; there likely won’t be a new blogging tool that hasn’t been influenced by WordPress.

Apart from the usual; organizing your written word by category, you can also create ‘issues’. These issues are in fact compilations of articles, much like print magazines. Categories and Issues can be used indiscriminately, and are overlapping concepts.

alternative to wordpress

There are currently up to eight available website templates. These can be set up in a handful of clicks and don’t require anything in the way of configuration. More advanced users can also use raw HTML and CSS to style their blogs.

Although Publisha isn’t as customizable with plugins like WordPress, it comes precooked with a number of exciting features, including Analytics and revenue configuration (adverts).

Earn Revenue From Your Website

Revenue can be earned via a number of advertising networks, including Dastardly, NikeAgency, Custom advertisers can also be added. Sadly, Publisha doesn’t have a pre-built ad network ready, although such a feature is said to arrive in the near future.

To earn revenue money, you need to create your own campaign, enter your advertising network’s details, and specify the size and location of the ad.

The price of Publisha translates itself to 30% of your revenue income. Other pricing plans have a fixed monthly fee, but allow you to retain a bigger part of your revenue. More an that below.

Publish on Facebook and iPhone

Publisha advertises itself as a multi-platform publishing system. That’s because their service isn’t limited to ‘ordinary’ blogs. They also allow you to easily reach the Facebook and mobile demographic, specifically the iPhone and iPad.

Your Facebook fan page can feature an extra tab, displaying your latest articles. This is not just a feed overview; users can browse your Facebook blog-counterpart and read the full articles.

blogging alternatives

You can also request for your writing to be published via the Publisha iPhone/iPad application. Although not all publications might be approved, there are no special requirements stated, except that you have already written at least three articles.

Additional Pricing

Basic Publisha usage doesn’t require a monthly fee. However, it has a few restrictions. There’s a cap of 10GB bandwidth, although you can purchase extra for $2 per GB without upgrading your plan. 80% of the ad slots are kept by you, and 70% of the revenue goes to your own pockets.

alternative to wordpress

The professional and enterprise plans are a bit pricy with a respective monthly fee of $50 and $250, but they increase the monthly bandwidth and allow you to keep a bigger part of the site revenue. Obviously, this is only profitable (and advisable) for popular publications with big readership numbers and income.

What are your own thoughts on Publisha? A good alternative for WordPress? Tell us why (or why not) in the comments section below!

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

2 Effective Tools That Can Increase Your Hard Drive Performance [Windows]

Posted: 16 Jul 2010 09:30 AM PDT

improve hard drive performanceOne of the most annoying things that can happen to your computer, especially if you’re the kind of person that installs and uninstalls software applications about as often as you change your clothes, is a drastic slowdown of your overall system performance.

In this post I’m going to discuss two very useful and effective tools you can use on a regular basis to improve hard drive performance and significantly increase the performance of an otherwise slow and “laggy” computer.

The first tool is called Ultimate Defrag, which will perform an “intelligent” defrag of every sector of your hard drive. The second is the Wise Disk Cleaner, which cleanses all of the temporary storage areas, caches and log files that can eventually consume precious hard drive space.

In order to prove that these tools are able to improve hard drive performance, it’s important to take a clear and accurate benchmark, or snapshot, of your current system performance. After reviewing Matt’s list of the 5 best free benchmark programs, I chose NovaBench as the best all around PC performance benchmarking application for our purposes.

Taking a Snapshot of System Performance

If you don’t currently have a system benchmarking application installed, then now’s the time to download NovaBench and take a look at your current PC performance levels.

improve hard drive performance

To run a quick benchmark test for your current performance levels, just click on “Tests” and then “Run All Tests.” Within just a few minutes, NovaBench gives your computer a “NovaBench Score” for your overall performance and then breaks the test results down into individual components.

hard drive performance test

This screen doesn’t display all of the details, but overall the PC scored a 237. This is a combined score for memory, hard drive, processor and overall computer performance. So, 237 is the performance score to beat.

Performing an Intelligent Defrag

One of the most common causes for your PC performance getting painfully slow is a horribly fragmented hard drive. On such a drive, a large volume of fragmented files slows down the computer processing time. Ultimate Defrag is one of the best defrag utilities because it not only performs a full defragmentation of your entire hard drive, but it will also place your most frequently used files at locations that can be accessed most quickly.

You can enable this “intelligent” feature by going into “Tools” and “Options.” Within the options screen, on the General tab, just select the box next to “Automatic” in the High Performance box. You can tweak what percentage of your most frequently used information will get strategically placed in the fastest access locations on your hard drive. For this example I’ve left the default of 50 percent.

hard drive performance test

Finally, press “Start” on the main screen, and Ultimate Defrag will start sorting through all of the files on your hard drive and carefully move them into sequential locations – dramatically reducing the percentage of fragmented files on your drive. You can see the process as it takes place on the cool graphical display on the main window of Ultimate Defrag.

hard drive performance

As the application sorts through your files, you’ll see larger areas of the graphical representation of your drive change from red (fragmented files) to blue (sequential files).  By the time the software completes this process (which, by the way, can take an hour or more), you’ll notice that most of the display ends up blue. When it’s done, your hard drive is super-efficient!

Cleaning Up Unnecessary Files

We’ve covered a very wide range of PC cleaner applications, such as PowerWash, which Karl covered. Tina covered 5 of the best freeware cleaners around, including two of my personal favorites – CCleaner and Wise Disk Cleaner. I find that Wise is one of the best, and for our purposes in trying to improve overall hard drive performance, it will have the greatest impact. So go ahead and fire up Wise.

hard drive performance

Using the wizard is the best choice, and from the very first step you’ll see how deeply this software digs to clean up your hard drive. Scroll through and select the file types you want to delete. Default is usually the safest, as you may not want to opt for deleting all log files off of your hard drive – sometimes log files are important!

As you can see, Wise did a fantastic job digging up old temp and cache files throughout my computer – 850 to be exact. By the way, I had run CCleaner only last night, so that tells you how effective Wise is when it comes to clearing out the junk off your hard drive. Just click on the big red X button and Wise will delete all of the junk files for you.

Final Results

So how much of a performance increase did our “intelligent” defrag and deep cleaning create? Rerunning NovaBench, you can see that the score has improved by eight points.

improve hard drive performance

Running these utilities isn’t just a method to fix a very slow and laggy computer, it’s also an important preventive maintenance procedure that you should be doing on a regular schedule if you want to keep your PC performing at its top capacity.

Do you know of any other PC utilities that will help repair a computer that runs too slow? Share your insight and advice in the comments section below.

Image credit: Hard Disk Drive by Eryk Klucinski

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

How to Test Your Home Network Speed (And Decipher The Results)

Posted: 16 Jul 2010 08:30 AM PDT

network speed testMost people test the speed of the Internet connection at one point or another, usually using a website such as SpeedTest to do so. The speed of your Internet connection is obviously a big deal because it dictates how quickly you can download files and also has an impact on the quality of streaming video.

But do you know the speed of your home network? This is tested less often, and there is no easy-as-pie website set up to help you with doing a network speed test. There is a simple utility called LAN Speed Test (unrelated to the SpeedTest website) that can help you figure out your home network’s precise speed.

Performing a Network Speed Test

LAN Speed Test is a simple program, and so far as I can tell, it doesn’t have an official website. You’ll have to download from a third party, such as CNET downloads. Once the program is installed, you’ll be greeted with an interface that states your computer’s name and IP address, as well as numerous blank fields below.

To use LAN Speed Test, your computer must be able to display the other computers in your home network. You can check to make sure that they are available by opening Windows Explorer and navigating to the Network section (in Windows Vista and Windows 7, this will be displayed in the sidebar on the left). If the other computers in your home network are available, they will be shown here.

network speed test

Once that has been confirmed, you can start the network speed test by clicking the Start Test button. A folder browser will appear. You need to browse to a public shared folder on one of your networked computers. I typically use the default Public Files folder, but you can use another folder you’d like. Once you have selected the folder, press OK. You’ll be asked how large of a file you want to use to test the speed of your network. The default is 100 megabytes – this is fine for a general test. If you want to test the sustained speed of your network more throughly, try changing the value to 1000 megabytes (approximately one gigabyte).

network performance test

The test creates a temporary file and then both writes and reads the file on the public folder of the networked computer you selected. The testing process can take some time. A 100 megabyte file may take a few minutes, while a gigabyte file could take half an hour. Once complete, the Status display will show Finished and results will appear.

Deciphering the Results

network performance test

There are several result fields displayed by LAN Speed Test, but there is one that I will focus on. It is the result furthest towards the bottom labeled Mbps. This is short for megabits per second, and here we have a common point of confusion when it comes to network speeds – a megabit is not the same as a megabyte. A megabit is roughly equal to 0.125 megabytes, which means that you need a transfer rate of 8 megabits per second to transfer 1 megabyte per second.

For example, I used LAN Speed Test to test transfer rates between two desktop computers connected to a wireless network. The test gave me a result of 17 Mbps on the write speed. The total time to complete the file write was 47 seconds, and the file was 100 megabytes in size. If I divide the file size (100MB) by the time to write the file (47 seconds) I achieve a result of 2.12 megabytes per second. If I take 2.12 megabytes and times it by 8 (the number of megabits it takes to make a megabyte) the result is roughly 17.

Once you know this information, you know approximately how long it will take to transfer a file between networked computers. Since I now know that I can transfer 2.12 megabytes a second I can guess that a 500 megabyte file would take 235 seconds (or about 4 minutes) to transfer. I reach this conclusion by dividing the file size by the megabytes transfered per second.

network speed test

This information is also critical for figuring out how well video streaming will work between computers. There are many different video formats, so I can’t list every single one here. However, I can list the peak bitrates for some popular video formats.

  • DVD (using MPEG-2 Compression): 10.08 Mbit/s
  • Blu-Ray (Recordable disc): 36 Mbit/s
  • H.264: 6 Mbit/s with 1080p content
  • VC -1: 30 Mbit/s with 1080p content

These are typical maximum values. In certain situations – particularly with H.264 and VC-1 video files – you may find bit rates to be much lower. This is because there is a trade-off between quality and performance. A file can be encoded into these formats at a lower bit rate to make it easier to stream, but the video quality will suffer.


Despite the usefulness of LAN Speed Test, home networking speed can still remain an inexact science. There is a great deal of flex in most file formats when it comes to the bit rate required to stream data, and the speed of wireless connections can also sometimes be degraded by interference from other signals or from obstacles.

Wired connections do not have this problem, of course. Still, the information you receive from LAN Speed Test will put you in a much better position to gauge how well your home network can handle file transfers between computers on the network.

Would you perform a network speed test? Wondering why your streaming video lags? Troubleshoot the connection with this app and let us know if it helped.

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf page on Facebook. Over 24,000 fans already!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

No comments:

Post a Comment