How Much Upload Speed Do I Need [Broken Down By Activity]

When comparing internet providers, you’ll find that download speeds are of a higher priority than upload speeds. This makes sense, as you are more likely to receive files than send them. 

However, not all customers use the internet the same way. Knowing this, you might ask, “how much upload speed do I need?” 

Depending on what you do, the internet speed of data from your computer might be just as important as the speed coming in. Below, we will break down the required upload speeds based on what you do.

Common activities that require a good upload speed

If you are one of those people asking “what speed internet do I need,” upload speed needs to be a small part of that conversation. This is because there are more activities than ever that require you to be concerned about what you send. 

Below, you’ll find some common activities that you might do:

  • Playing video games online - 1 Mbps 
  • Hosting a small online gaming server (two to four people) - 10 Mbps 
  • Video conferencing (with one person) - 5 Mbps
  • Group video conferencing (between two and 10 people) - 10 Mbps 
  • Cloud-based backup services - 10 Mbps (at most)
  • VoIP calling (using your internet as a phone line) - 1 Mbps 
  • A single (standard quality) camera for monitoring - 3 Mbps 

These are some of the more common situations that require regular uploads. You might say you do none of this, but you likely have at least one of these under your belt. 

Most Internet service providers give you some usability with uploading data. However, not all of them focus on providing decent upload potential.

What activities require the fastest speeds for uploading? 

Many of the examples above refer to small-time usage. However, there are specific activities that bump you up. So if you ask “how much upload speed do I need” regarding high consumption activities, this guide is for you. 

Hosting servers (like for gaming or websites)

Server hosting is easily the biggest activity, requiring faster speeds on all levels. Not only do you have to bring in a lot of data, you need to send out that information at a similar rate. 

Not all hosting styles require massive amounts of data. Typically, the highest consumption rates (30 Mbps or more) come from media servers. For example, many people like to host Minecraft servers.

Other high-consumption media servers host large websites. Smaller websites, such as those for local service industries, might not need over 5 Mbps. 

Livestreaming content to a large audience 

Websites like Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Watch have audiences that tune in to different ‌content. It isn’t difficult to find livestreamers that talk about subjects you are passionate about. 

Content creators who address large audiences need to have consistent, high-quality internet. To do this, they need to have solid upload speeds. 

These upload speeds need to be a minimum of 10 Mbps. This number comes from being above the required download speed of Netflix. However, it’s best to overestimate the data you’ll need to ensure you send out videos. 

If you have many group meetings for your job, your upload speeds might have similar requirements. Check the upload requirements of each platform you use. Add a few megabytes to this number to be sure you have a buffer. This prevents potential slowdowns. 

Uploading large files 

When you have slow internet, waiting for downloads can be ‌painful. You can say the same for those receiving files from you. For you to solve this issue, you can get a better upload rate.

The rate at which people receive files from you cannot exceed your upload requirements. If you regularly upload files, this can be a problem. 

One example comes from having a job as a content creator. Videos can be incredibly large and take a lot of time to upload. When your upload speed is slow, that’s time you could spend on other tasks. 

Use of high-quality home security systems 

The typical home security camera won’t require over 5 Mbps. However, security systems rarely limit themselves to one camera. You might have two or three cameras. 

When these cameras continuously monitor and send you notifications, it can be taxing on your system. Combine that with smart home monitoring systems, and you can quickly reach internet usage in the double digits.

Remember the uploading isn’t an issue unless you have a monitored security system. ADT, for example, provides 24/7 monitoring. Many internet-based security systems follow this pattern, but use your home network. 

Self-monitored security systems integrated with your smart home are the highest consumers. This is especially true if you can check the cameras on your phone. While it can provide you peace of mind, it takes a lot of upload bandwidth to manage. 

You can save yourself a bit of bandwidth here by reducing your camera’s quality. 

Usage of more demanding cloud-based services 

Cloud computing ensures you don’t have to rely on your computer for storing data. However, the use of cloud-based services requires you to communicate with an external service. When you do this, it is a continuous drain on your network. 

Most cloud-based services do very little with your data by default. For example, you might have a Microsoft OneDrive system to back up your word documents. Unless you make a lot of word documents, this isn’t an issue. 

This high level of consumption can change if you have a cloud-backup set for your large files. Examples of these big files include wonderful memories of your kiddos on video. While cute, these unedited videos can suck up a lot of upload speed. 

If you work from home, your business might’ve required you to install software that connects to their business cloud. So, if you are asking “what internet speed do I need for working from home,” an above-average upload speed will often help you in some at-home positions. 

How do you find a good upload speed from your internet service provider?

If you run into one situation above, you might notice slower internet. To solve this problem, you’ll need to follow these tips to ensure you get good upload speeds:

Look for plans with symmetrical connections 

If upload speeds are your focus, one way to achieve this is to focus on plans that provide symmetrical connections. These connection types match your upload and download speeds. So if you have 100 Mbps download speed, you also get 100 Mbps upload speed.

These faster plans help reduce network bottlenecks by ensuring communications go in and out at the same rate. It’s the ideal situation for those who consistently backup their data or host servers. 

Plans that offer symmetrical connections often emphasize them as a selling point. This means you might see a price increase because of this connection type. 

For most standard usage, symmetrical connections are excessive and unnecessary. Often you won’t need upload speeds to exceed 100 Mbps, even with a high level of usage. 

Ask your internet provider

Your internet plan should have information on both the upload and download speed that you rely on. So it makes sense to check with what you currently have to see why you might be struggling. 

If you struggle with this speed, it might give you an opportunity to upgrade your plan. Higher download rates often result in an increase in upload rates. You’ll want to check with your provider to see how their upgrade policy goes. 

Look online for other providers 

If your current provider doesn’t work, find another provider that meets your needs. Shopping around for the latest internet deals might let you recognize you aren’t getting the best upload rates. 

Inform your current provider of your plan to leave before you shop around. Internet providers are more willing to find solutions that work for you if they might lose their business. Keeping you as a customer is a pretty potent motivator for many internet providers. 

Check if your router can handle it

When you pay for higher upload speeds but don’t get them, your next step is to check the home network. If your router is older or has a lousy upload rate, you might need a replacement. 

Finding the best router for your needs is fairly simple. You can start by setting a list of priorities. These can include the following:

  • Upload/download speeds
  • Do you need Wi-Fi?
  • Do you want it to have smart home features?
  • Does it need built-in security?

Always ensure the router can meet your desired speeds before you buy it. If your new router falls short of your maximum speed, it won’t perform up to your expectations. Other likely requirements include Wi-Fi internet.

All other features are entirely optional and depend on your convenience. This way, your router budget doesn’t get out of control and you don’t get features you won’t use. 

Stick with specific internet types 

There are many types of internet services available. When choosing between these connection types, you should know that not all of them prioritize upload speeds.

The fastest speeds (both upload and download) will be through wired connections. This means satellite internet and fixed wireless internet have incredibly slow upload speeds. Wireless connection types rarely exceed 1 Mbps.

Among the internet with physical lines, DSL internet is the slowest. Cable has the second fastest upload speeds, while fiber-optic internet speeds are the fastest for both uploads and downloads. So when it comes with faster download speeds, it will probably come with faster upload speeds. 

Remember that these situations aren’t always the case. Always check with the plan details before buying. The fastest internet providers on download speeds aren’t always the fastest on upload rates. 

Internet service providers with the best upload speeds

There are few internet providers that focus on upload speeds. Here’s a quick list of those internet providers and a quick review of how you can get them:

  • Google Fiber - Because it's owned by one of the world’s largest tech companies, you can imagine they focus on high-speed internet. Google offers symmetric speeds in the ‌handful of cities they operate in. 
  • Verizon FiOS - Verizon FiOS has far more spread than Google. Their fiber internet plans offer nearly symmetric connections. You are far more likely to find them in major cities and nearby suburbs. 
  • CenturyLink - CenturyLink is incredibly solid as an internet solution for rural customers. In some lucky areas and major cities, you can get their competitive fiber plans. These plans also include symmetric connections that match your upload and download speeds at 1 Gbps. 
  • AT&T Fiber - AT&T Fiber is one of the most reliable internet providers in the United States. Their symmetric connection policy applies to speeds going up to 5 Gbps, which is amazing for small businesses and premium customers. 

If you want to see if any of these fall into the “internet service providers near me” search, check out InternetAdvisor’s “Find A Provider” tool. This tool can help reduce your research time and find the internet with the fastest upload and download speeds. 

Upload Speed FAQs

How much upload speed do I need for gaming?

Online gaming rarely needs upload speeds beyond 5 Mbps. If you host servers, you might be more comfortable with 10 Mbps. However, most games have ways of reducing these upload requirements. 

How much upload speed do I need for Nest Cameras?

Nest Cams require you to have upload speeds at about 3 to 4 Mbps. If you have multiple, you’ll want to add them together and aim for this combined upload speed. 

How much upload speed do I need to stream?

If you want to livestream content, it's good to have upload speeds of up to 25 Mbps. This above-average speed ensures you can meet the video quality demands of most streaming platforms. 

InternetAdvisor Team

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