How to Calculate Download Time

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Before committing to a lengthy download, you may want to know how much time that download will require. This is a simple calculation, based on your connection speed and the size of the file. However, the result may not coincide with your actual experience. If you are downloading from a particularly slow site, then the site could be the limiting factor. This variable is nearly impossible to calculate beforehand, since you do not have access to those performance numbers.

  • Reference the size of the file. If you are downloading from a website, or an FTP site, the download size might be listed next to the download link. On a peer-to-peer transfer program, the size is usually listed in one of the columns.

  • Determine your connection speed. This information should have been provided when you signed up for your Internet service. If not, call you Internet service provider and ask them your connection speed. Common connection speeds are 56 Kb for dial up or 3.0 to 10.0 Mbps for high-speed access. You can also test your speed using online speed tools, such as Speedtest.net, Speakeasy.net and CNET.com.

    If you know the website or P2P connection speed, and it is slower than yours, then use that speed for the calculation. When downloading, you can only download as fast as the slowest connection.

    Alternatively, begin downloading the file and look at the progress window. Typically, the actual download speed is displayed. Using this figure saves you to trouble of determining your or the website's connection speed.

  • Convert the connection speed into the same units as displayed for the download. As an example, If the download was 200 MB, then you will want to convert your connection speed to MB. As an example, you might have a 3.0 Mbps connection. Note the difference between the capitalized and lower case "B," which signifies "bytes" or "bits" respectively. Since there are 8 bits in a byte, you would divide 3.0 Mb by 8 to convert the connection speed to 0.375 MB per second.

  • Divide the download size by the connection speed to calculate download time. In the example, 200 MB divided by 0.375 MB per second gives you a download speed of 533 seconds, or 8 minutes and 53 seconds.

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