Latency, also called ping. It measures how much time it takes for your computer, the internet, and everything in between, to respond to an action you take. Like clicking on a link. In other words, it affects how responsive your internet connection, video, or game feels.
Ping is another way of describing latency. The ping is the request you’re sending to the server, and the ping rate is how long it takes for that request to transmit and come back with the result.
It is generally measured in milliseconds (ms) and is unavoidable due to the way networks communicate with each other. It depends on several aspects of a network and can vary if any of them are changed.
What causes latency?
- Transmission medium:The physical path between the start point and the end point. The type of medium can impact latency. Distance is usually the main cause of latency—in this case, it refers to the distance between your computer and the servers your computer is requesting information from.
- Propagation: In physics, propagation is the sending out or spreading of light or sound waves, movement. When we’re talking internet, propagation is the action of sending out your data packets to a server. Theoretically, latency of a packet going on a round trip across the world is 133ms. In actuality, such a round trip takes longer, though latency is decreased when direct connections through network backbone are achieved.
- Routers: The efficiency in which routers process incoming data has a direct impact on latency. Router to router hops can increase latency. An old, slow router can bog down your computer’s connection to your internet provider’s modem, whether you use WI-Fi or an Ethernet connection.
- Storage delays: Accessing stored data can increase latency as the storage network may take time to process and return information.
- Internet connection type: Your internet connection type can also play a role in how high or low your latency is. For the most part, DSL, cable, and fiber internet tend to have lower latency, while satellite internet tends to have higher latency.
How do you fix high latency?
- Turn off any downloads, and be sure to check for anything that’s downloading in the background.
- Close any unused applications or browser tabs.
- Use an Ethernet cable to connect your device to your router or modem, if at all possible.
- Update your router’s and modem’s firmware—outdated firmware can even cause slow internet speeds.
- Make sure your router settings are solid. Dig in to your modem and router, and make sure none of your settings are creating bottlenecks. Most routers have a settings page where you can change your password, adjust which channel the router is using, and more.Usually the login information is printed right on a sticker on the bottom of the device.
- Upgrade your internet package. If you’ve upgraded your equipment and tweaked your settings but still aren’t getting the speeds you want, the next step is to upgrade to a faster internet package. Not sure how much speed you need? We’ve got a handy speed recommendation on our packages, check them out.
Bandwidth vs. latency
Higher bandwidth is better. Bandwidth is a measure of how much data can be transferred from one point in a network to another within a specific amount of time. When talking about internet connections, it’s usually measuring how much data can be downloaded to your device from a server on the internet.Your actual bandwidth will often be less than your maximum bandwidth because of network congestion and other external factors. If you want to see how fast your internet connection is now, use a speed test.
Lower latency is better. It refers to how much time it takes for a signal to travel to its destination and back. To test this, your computer sends a “ping” of information to a remote server and measures how long it takes for the signal to come back.
Lower latency is better because it is essentially a delay between when you take an action and when you see the result—high latency is when it takes longer to see the results. The less delay, the better.
Every time you put in a request to your internet connection, it sends a signal to the server to retrieve the information and then bring it back to you. Since this usually happens pretty quickly, it is measured in milliseconds.