What does download and upload mean?

When you connect to the internet, the download speed is the pace at which data (websites, programmes, music etc) is transferred from another computer to your own. Currently, when it comes to home broadband, advertised download speeds range from 8 Mbps to 100 Mbps, but this is rising at a pretty quick rate and you can expect broadband download speeds to become much faster across the UK over the next few years.

Upload speed on the other hand is the speed at which data (such as your new holiday pictures and videos) is uploaded to the internet – perhaps to put onto a social networking site such as Facebook, or onto a file-sharing site such as Flickr; or even to upload photos to a photo print ordering company’s website. Essentially, the upload is going in the opposite direction to the download – from your computer to someone else’s.

Broadband upload speeds are generally much slower than download speeds. The reason for this is that people generally do far more downloading than uploading, and as such downloading is given priority by internet service providers (ISPs).

ISPs regulate how their networks deal with the various traffic flows competing to be sent across the ether. Upload speeds become more important to someone who needs to transfer large files from their own computer to another computer in a different geographic area. For example, someone who works from home and wants to exchange files with a remote network, or people who play a lot of online games.