Updated: 03/12/2022 by Computer Hope

Speed may refer to any of the following:

Speedometer with needle in the green.

1. In general, speed is the overall time something takes to complete. For example, if a computer is fast, it opens a program in less than a few seconds. Fast computers can open smaller programs in less than a second. However, if a computer is slow, it can take several seconds or maybe even a minute or more to open a big program.


See our slow definition for all links related to why a computer or parts of a computer (e.g., Internet) may be slow.

Several factors contribute to the overall speed of a computer. These factors include the processor, cache, memory, bus, hard drive, video card, operating system, and software. A full breakdown of how each of these components affects the speed of a computer is on the following pages.

2. When describing the Internet speed and network speed, speed, or high-speed, use the term bandwidth, which is how much data the connection can transfer. For example, a dial-up connection has a small bandwidth (56.6k a second), whereas a broadband connection has a much larger bandwidth of many Mb or even Gb per second. Your connection's maximum bandwidth, the remote computer's bandwidth, the latency, and the number of hops between the two computers determine your Internet speed.


Keep in mind your connection may be an asymmetrical connection, which means it has different download and upload speeds. For example, a broadband cable modem connection has a faster download than upload speed. Although most people primarily download on the Internet, when using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or another upload-intensive service, upload speed contributes to overall Internet speed.

3. The access speed or drive speed is how fast a computer drive can read and write data. For example, one factor determining a hard drive's speed is the RPM (revolutions per minute). A hard drive that only spins at 5400 RPM has a slower speed than a hard drive that spins at 7200 RPM. SSDs (solid-state drives) have no rotating platters and can still be benchmarked by determining the IOPS (input/output operations per second).

4. The mouse speed or touchpad speed is how fast the mouse pointer moves on the screen. If the mouse cursor speed is too slow or fast, it can be adjusted through the operating system or software installed with the mouse.

5. The printer speed is how many PPM (pages per minute) a printer can print. See our PPM definition for further information on this term and related printer speed measurements.

6. The speed at which you type or your typing speed is measured by WPM (words per minute) and GWAM. See our WPM and GWAM (gross words a minute) pages for further information and related links on these terms.

Benchmark, Clock speed, High-speed Internet, Performance, Slow, Transfer speed, Upload/download