How Long Will My Download Take?

World map with lines indicating data being downloaded

Downloading content onto a phone, tablet, or laptop can be easy or frustrating depending upon several factors, many of which are out of the user’s control. Anybody who has had the experience of logging into a device to be met with a message about necessary updates and how long they’ll take knows that the wait can feel endless.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering “How long will this take to download?“, it may be helpful to understand which factors can impact download speed, it may be reassuring to know that there are things that can speed up your next download;

Factors That Impact Download Speed

Download speed isn’t just about the size of the file being downloaded, although in this case, size does matter. According to Verizon, here are some of the other factors that can impact the speed of your download.

Wi-Fi vs Wired

While Wi-Fi speeds can be high enough for most situations, using a Wi-Fi connection is likely to result in a slower download time than using a wired connection.

Computer Components

The specific configuration of the device being used can have a big impact on download speed. Everything from the computer processor to the operating system to the device’s available memory can play a role in how long it takes to download a file.


Running several applications at the same time has an impact on a device’s RAM and may cause a download to take longer than usual. Keep in mind that apps may be running in the background when they’re not being used.

Network Use

Any computer that’s connected to a network—as is often the case in an office environment—may experience slower-than-usual download speeds if multiple computers in the network are in use or, as is sometimes the case, downloading updates at the same time.

Outages and Other Unusual Events

Every internet and Wi-Fi provider has experienced slow-downs and outages due to circumstances beyond their control. A bad storm can knock out power and even when power is restored, heavy usage may slow download times for everybody on the network.

What is Considered a Good Download Speed?

Download speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps), a metric that indicates how long it takes a server to download content. A variety of apps, including things like YouTube, Instagram, and Spotify, must be able to download content to be used.

The Federal Communication Commission has created guidelines to help consumers understand download speeds. According to their guide, any download speed of 25 Mbps is considered a good download speed.

Computer servers with green arrows showing download speed.

Tips to Speed Up Download Times

The good news for those wanting a faster download time is that there are some things that they can do to positively impact the download time for their devices.

Upgrade Internet Speed with Provider

Internet providers often offer tiered services with more expensive tiers having faster download speeds. If your download speed is consistently slow, it may be worth exploring an upgrade or even changing providers.

Disable Unused Apps

Apps and software may run in the background even when you’re not actively using them. These things use RAM and when they’re continuously running, they can slow your internet connection and increase download speed. Disabling these apps can help you download items more quickly. You can turn them back on if you want to after the download is complete.

Test Modem or Router

Homes that typically have multiple devices using the internet may need to test their modems or routers to ensure they’re working properly. If download speeds are slow, it may be a sign that you need to replace one or both of these items to increase the speed.

Limit Devices on Router

Internet users that have a slow internet connection may need to limit devices on the router when a large download is occurring. This type of issue may be more common in rural areas but can also happen when a download is particularly big or takes a long time to complete. Disconnecting even one device can have a significant impact on download speed. Or, you could consider adding a Wi-Fi extender to help.

Devices and Downloads

Anybody who regularly downloads large files may want to consider purchasing a device–whether it’s a phone, tablet, or laptop–with features that will accommodate large downloads at high speeds. Here are some features to consider.

  • A processor with at least 4 GHz speed 
  • At least 16 GB of RAM (many computers come with more)
  • A Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • A discrete graphics card (necessary for gaming downloads or anything with a lot of images)
  • A good cooling system

Cooling is necessary because when computer components are too close to one another, they may overheat and slow your downloads. You won’t be asking how long will it take to download if you invest in a computer with these features.

Say Goodbye to Slow Downloads

Slow download times can be an issue, but there are things that can be done to improve download speeds and make the process less stressful. Investing in a quality computer can help, as can testing your internet speed and minimizing the number of devices on your network.

This entry was posted in Business, Mathematics, Science and tagged , . By Aimee Parrott