How to evaluate actual internet bandwidth results

maharlika used Ask the Experts™
What is a valid method for testing internet bandwidth?  We recently upgraded from 100 mbps to 500 mbps and upgraded our firewall to sonicwall nsa 3600, which supposedly can handle up to 500 mbps bandwidth. Online speed tests like and are all over the map, from 80 mbps to about 270 mbps inside the firewall.  I tested it by timing how long it took to upload and download a 3 gb file from my computer to google drive. It was in the range of 8 to 12 minutes each time I tested, which is about 50 mbps. I tested after regular business hours so not a lot of traffic on our local network. Why such enormous discrepancies? What is realistic expectation to get the "real-world" throughput, which means running a windows computer behind a firewall?
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Specs for NGFW boxes are notoriously optimistic. The NSA 3600 is specced at 300Mbps for SSL traffic.

I would be trying to get some benchmarks without the firewall in place, and with no filtering at all applied.


I've done some benchmarking outside the firewall, but that doesn't reflect reality, since all of our traffic must go through the firewall.
In Theory (IT)
Use a program like Darkstat, it will give you all the information that you're looking for.

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