What Internet Speed Do I Need To Work From Home?

Only 36% of people think the office is suitable for individual work. What does this tell us? The work from home wave is here. Though, if you’re reading this, you probably already know that.

That being said, it can be tricky to set up your home office and be your own tech guru. So regardless of your industry or occupation, we’ve got you covered when answering this question: what internet speed do I need to work from home? 

While internet service providers are eager to sell you the fastest internet, do you need it? What is the difference between upload and download speeds? What are the different types of internet - and which one is right for you?

Below, we’ve got answers to all your questions about finding the best home internet service.

What is the best download speed for working from home?

If you are one of the many searching, “what internet speed do I need to work from home,” you aren’t alone. Without delving too deep, you should know a good minimum download speed is 50 Mbps.

Why 50 Mbps? 

Lower speeds are fine for browsing the internet and checking email. However, most people who work from home share internet with a roommate (even if that roommate is your spouse or children) and/or need to have enough bandwidth for video conferences.  

Let’s reiterate that 50 Mbps is enough internet speed to work from home - usually. Your specific work duties will impact your ideal speed needs.

For example, we’ve already addressed video conferences - if you’re an online educator, teacher, or coach, you might need to have enough bandwidth for meetings of 100’s of people. A developer working on code will require a very responsive, lightning fast connection. And you can bet that internet speed affects things like crypto mining or day trading. 

People with occupations like these probably want to look into installing fiber optic internet.

Meanwhile, the occasional work-from-home day spent looking at cloud-based documents or using online software allows for more flexibility in both internet speeds and type of service.

So when asking, “what internet speed do I need to work from home,” use this high-level breakdown:

Speeds at 50 (or less) are ideal for…

  • Browsing the internet 
  • Sending and receiving emails or messages
  • Having one-on-one video conferences at a standard quality 
  • Up to three devices 
  • One (or more) housemates 

Jobs that 50 Mbps is enough internet speed to work from home: Writers, call-center representatives, virtual assistants, social media managers, admin jobs, or taskers (testing simple website features)

Speeds at 150 Mbps are ideal for…

  • Loading websites and working with website software
  • Using more robust, internet-based software
  • Handling multi-tabbed browsing with ease
  • Up to six devices
  • Sharing with two or three people (or family)
  • High-quality video streaming with under ten meeting participants

Jobs that 150 Mbps is enough internet speed to work from home: Tech support (for remote access), video-to-phone translator for the deaf, marketing professionals, graphic designers, online content creators, video editing and uploading

Speeds at 300 Mbps are ideal for…

  • Up to ten devices 
  • Downloading large files 
  • Sharing with four or five people
  • One-to-many video conferencing

Jobs that 300 Mbps is enough internet speed to work from home: Game testers and creators, video-based online teachers and course creators, online streamers (like influencers on Amazon Live)

Speeds at 500 Mbps are ideal for…

  • Working with large amounts of code or developing large sites
  • Up to 13 devices
  • Sharing with multiple people
  • Downloading large files faster
  • Uploading large files
  • Limited server hosting 

Jobs that 300 Mbps is enough internet speed to work from home: Small business owners or executives, web developers, online influencers with multiple platforms and devices (who use streaming and video platforms)

Speeds at 1 Gbps are ideal for…

  • Many devices (25 or more)
  • Downloading huge files within minutes
  • Large-scale video conferencing (up to hundreds of people)
  • Server hosting for larger-scale developer projects
  • Trading, mining, and more

Jobs that 1 Gbps is enough to work from home: Web or app developers who work with large files, business owners who need immediate file access, public server managers, crypto miners, day traders

Few providers offer download speeds beyond one gig. Two (or more) gigs of internet is usually only suitable if you run a public server. 

So you can see that answering the question of if you need faster internet isn’t about just buying the fastest available. Outside of the daily demands of your job, there are also a few other things you need need to know.

What internet speed do I need to work from home - other considerations

Having fast download speeds is essential. But fast downloading is only one aspect. 

Here are some additional considerations for your work from home life:

  • Upload speeds 
  • Whether unlimited data is necessary
  • Connection types available in your area
  • Whether you will need WiFi hotspots
  • Keeping your work secure
  • Who and what else is connected in your home

You’ll find more details below on how these aspects will impact your work-from-home life.

As you can see above, certain speeds can only accommodate up to 3 devices. That includes each device of each member in your household. Even your smart home needs certain internet speeds.

So, let’s break down each of these points from above:

What upload speeds do you need to work from home?

When asking, “what internet speed do I need to work from home,” fast downloading is half the equation. If you do regular video calls or work at a call center, you need an upload speed of at least 600 Kbps.

This is because upload speeds impact how fast your machine communicates. So, in cases where you need regular communication, a good upload speed helps. 

Here are some upload speeds you should look out for one-on-one communication:

  • A 720p video conference requires 2 Mbps 
  • A 1080p video conference requires 5 Mbps
  • A 4K video conference requires 7 Mbps 
  • Regular screen sharing requires 200 Kbps
  • Audio-based communication requires 150 Kbps

These numbers apply across many video and audio-based applications. However, you’ll want to check the service data requirements. You can also ask the business you work for. 

Do you need unlimited data to work from home?

Unlimited data is not an absolute requirement for working from home. However, there are some cases where you might need it. And many people simply prefer the peace of mind and convenience it offers.

Unlimited data is when your service provider doesn’t limit your per-month usage. In this way, you receive no overage penalties but often pay more for the convenience. 

The alternative is being given a monthly data allowance. Your allowance is usually a few gigs, which is more than enough for most needs. This situation might change if you download large files or video conferences often. 

Your internet service provider will often give you one overage for free. But after you exhaust this free overage, you will experience one (or both) situations:

  • You will get a small overage fee on your next bill 
  • Your data will be throttled for the remainder of the month 

Data throttling occurs when your provider reduces speeds. In this case, your speed reduction comes from going over limitations. However, you can also be throttled if the internet service provider is overburdened. 

Suspect this is happening to you? 

Use a speed test website to run an internet speed test and find out if your data is being throttled. You can compare these numbers with what your contract says. 

Call your internet service provider if you find yourself running over data caps regularly. Ask them for records of how far you go over data caps. Next, you can ask them if they offer packages that meet your requirements. 

A speed upgrade will often include a cap increase. But it’s best to ask your provider if a higher speed gives you more data. If you don’t need the extra speed, you might consider another internet service provider near you.  

What is the best type of internet to work from home?

Cable internet and fiber optic internet are the two best connection types for work-from-home needs. These two options offer the best combination of reliability and speed. 

Alternatively, you can choose DSL, fixed wireless, or satellite internet. However, all three of these options come with challenges.

DSL internet service is not a terrible backup to cable and fiber. It offers similar reliability but doesn’t exceed speeds above 100 Mbps. You can use it for high-quality video conferencing, but nothing beyond that.

Both satellite and fixed internet services are excellent for rural areas. Still, speeds with either option don’t often exceed 25 Mbps. You may also have to deal with pretty extreme data caps. 

If you are a writer or someone testing website functionality, you can work with these data caps. But constantly streaming video or audio can impact your data limits.

How WiFi hotspots can help you work from home

If you are like some, your search for “what internet speed do I need to work from home,” might not involve a literal home. If you are a digital nomad or your job needs you to move, WiFi hotspots can help your Work From Anywhere (WFA) dream happen.

WFA means you can sit down in any hotel room or coffee shop and get work done. If you are living this dream, congratulations, you deserve it. The tricky part is finding good internet, as some public WiFis, hotel connections, and Airbnb data plans don’t have what you need. 

You can solve this problem by paying for an internet service that offers widespread hotspots. By doing this, you can improve your odds of finding a good internet connection wherever you are. 

Some companies also have strict data retention rules. You might not be able to use public WiFi to access company assets. Using these hotspots can provide you with better security. It also maintains some of your connection data (like your IP address). You won’t have to take extra steps to access digital assets with consistent hotspot usage. 

Check your internet provider's hotspot list to be sure they can help. 

For example, the Xfinity hotspot finder gives you a handy map. So you can tell if there are hotspots near the next job site or working vacation destination. You should compare different providers to see if their hotspot network is more suited to where you work.

If your provider doesn’t offer this, you can still rely on public WiFi. Start by asking the hotel, restaurant, or coffee shop about how fast their internet connection is. You can also try and show up during non-peak times. You can also ask your Airbnb host to send you the results of a WiFi speed test before you book.

For example, restaurants, and coffee places tend to be less busy outside lunch or dinner times. 

How do you stay secure when you work from home? 

A good antivirus program protects you and your clients. These programs help prevent and remove unwanted files from your computer. 

You have your choice of a premium or free antivirus.

To ensure ample protection, you will want to look for a real-time protection program. This checks incoming connections and files for potential harm. So you can stop problems before they happen.

To help you stay safer, here are some other features:

  • Anti-phishing (checks websites to see if they are harmful)
  • Identity theft protection features 
  • Email checking protection 
  • Automatic updates 
  • A file shredder 
  • Ransomware protection (in case someone steals your files)

While this might seem like a lot, try not to panic. You’ll find that most antivirus programs come with these features. If you can’t afford one, both Mac and Windows systems come with a free one. 

By scheduling a weekly scan, you can avoid most problems. 

You might shop for a new internet service provider based on security needs. For example, all EarthLink internet plans come with free antivirus software. You can also ask your provider if they offer discounts. 

How to find internet providers near you (with speeds for working from home)?

When finding the best home internet near you, you need to know what’s available. To get a comprehensive list of what’s available, you can use InternetAdvisor’s “find a provider” tool. This tool lets you find the best internet providers near your zip code

Once you enter your zip code and click the search button, you’ll see a list of providers offering different services. 

Focus on providers that offer cable and fiber services. We also have a tool you can use to find internet that meets your speed requirements. 

The InternedAdvisor Internet Speed Wizard speeds based on your situation. It asks questions that refer to a combination of family and work needs. 

The Internet Speed Wizard will bring you through these questions:

  • How many devices in your home are part of the internet?
  • How many people use the internet at your house?
  • Does your household use video chat or make internet phone calls?
  • Do you use streaming audio in your home? (Spotify, Pandora, etc.)
  • Does anyone in your family participate in online gaming?
  • Do you use streaming services? (Hulu, Netflix, etc.)
  • Is downloading large files a regular part of your house?

After answering the questions above, you’ll be instructed to enter your zip code. After entering your zip code, you’ll be directed back to the “find a provider” tool. The difference is that you’ll see your recommended speed at the top of the screen. 

Conclusion: what internet speed do I need for working from home?

When working from home, your speed requirements depend mainly on your job. If you work as a writer, you can work with less speed. If you are hosting a public server for your work, you will need higher speeds. 

It’s also good to consider your private usage alongside your business usage. 

If you have a family of four and need constant streaming video, you’ll need high-speed internet. So to be sure your internet provider meets your needs, use InternetAdvisor’s tools to get started. 

InternetAdvisor Team

We are passionate about aggregating large, accurate data sets and providing it all to our users in an easy-to-use format. Simply put, shopping is easier for the consumer when he/she knows all available options. We are not beholden to any single provider and therefore are dedicated to transparency and giving you unbiased information on all providers.

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