Latency represents the amount of time it takes for a data package to travel from your device to a web server and back again. This time is measured in milliseconds (ms) and affects many web applications. Low latency therefore means less delay and a smoother surfing experience.
"Ping" is often used synonymously with latency. A ping test is used to measure the latency and determine the time between sending a data package and receiving a response. At best, this time is between 5 and 30 ms. For comparison: A typical blink of the human eye takes between 100 and 150 ms on average.
To roughly understand how an Internet line works, you can imagine a virtual parcel carrier. They transport data packages from your end device to a server and back again at regular intervals. The bandwidth of your Internet connection describes the amount of data packages that such a virtual parcel carrier can carry – and the ping the time needed for this.
Therefore, a good ping also depends on the location of a server and the type of your Internet connection. The further away a server location, the longer the distance that data packages must travel. The latency increases and with it the noticeable delay in anything you do on the Internet.
This is also the reason why the latency with so-called satellite Internet is significantly higher – on average at 700 ms. No wonder, the data packages must travel into space and come back to earth safely. For comparison: With a standard DSL or cable connection, the basic latency is usually between 20 and 30 ms.
A high latency is noticeable in almost every application on the Internet. No matter how high your actual bandwidth: High latency can slow down even the fastest Internet connection and cause conventional websites to load painfully slow. Applications that take place in real time and are particularly interactive or data-intensive, though, are most affected.
Most Internet users concerned with improving their ping are probably passionate gamers. No wonder: Online games – especially those at a competitive level – require fast response times of players and servers alike.
If there are high latencies here, one speaks of lags – now suddenly every well-considered action goes wrong, and players literally twitch through the game world.
Latencies - guidelines for online games:
- Under 20 ms: Your ping is ideal and your game almost lag-free.
- 20 to 50 ms: You should be able to play mostly undisturbed.
- 50 to 100 ms: A noticeable disadvantage in the response time can arise in fast online games.
- 100 to 150 ms: Noticeable delays can be expected in all online games.
If you make regular phone calls over the Internet – either via Voice over IP (VoIP) or video conferencing – a good ping is also extremely important. If data packages take too long from one client to the next, annoying delays occur.
If that happens, one participant quickly talks over the other and the natural flow of conversation is thrown into disarray. Video and audio are no longer synchronous and sometimes there might even occur deafening echoes.
Latencies – guidelines for VoIP:
- Under 20 ms: Your conversation flows almost without delay and no one (unintentionally) interrupts one another.
- Up to 150 ms: Slight delays can sneak in, but those should not be too significant.
- Up to 300 ms and beyond: Call quality is rapidly declining and becoming unacceptable.
When enjoying nightly Netflix streams, latency usually plays a minor role. The reason is simple: in the transmission of video-on-demand (VoD) content, your Internet line has enough time to preload the video stream in time. Except in extreme cases, you should not notice longer loading times.
The situation is a different one when watching live streams: If you enjoy live broadcasts of video games, exciting sports games and other live events, a low ping is once again important. Otherwise, you might hear your neighbours cheering for the goal while the ball is still rolling comfortably through midfield. Or you can comment on a particularly dangerous attack in the chat that is already water under the bridge.
Broadcasting live streams yourself can become particularly challenging.For example, if you broadcast your gaming session – including your own camera image – to a large audience via Twitch, you want to keep your live stream as trouble- and lag-free as possible. Otherwise, you won't be able to respond to chat messages on time and your viewers might immediately drop out due to inconsistent image quality and lack of interaction.
With an online speed test – such as from Ookla – you can easily measure your latency. For each end device that interests you, check how much bandwidth arrives and how high the ping is. Next, depending on the type of application and the distance to the router, you can try the tips and tricks below to improve the ping.
Is there enough bandwidth?
Numerous online applications in the household, parallel video conferences and series streams for example,can increase latency. In this case there are simply too many virtual parcel carriers in a limited space at the same time, trying to deliver data packages.
The amount of data that your Internet connection can process is limited – and usually the first thing you should increase if you determine a lack of bandwidth via a speed test.
If you are a casual surfer and only use the Internet for basic activities such as visiting websites, emails and the occasional YouTube video, a bandwidth of 12 to 25 Mbps is sufficient. Gamers, streamers and home office users should have at least 50 Mbps available. And if various users and numerous end devices share a line, you should have 100 Mbps or more at your disposal.
Use an Ethernet cable
Although current Wi-Fi standards are fast, communication via a LAN cable is still more reliable and less prone to latency. If you have the option, you should connect your end device directly to the router via cable. Don't worry: With the right technology, you don't even have to place a cable across the entire living room Just use the existing power line!
Check your firewall settings
A firewall examines the data packages, that our imaginary courier carries back and forth, for potential malware. This ensures more security within your home network, but also tends to result in higher latencies. And in the worst case, a firewall can even decide not to let certain data packages through at all.
If you trust an application – like a VoIP or streaming service – you can whitelist it in your firewall settings. Corresponding data packages are classified as harmless then and can be delivered unhindered.
Update your hardware
If your hardware is outdated, communication problems can occur. This applies both to your router and to the actual end device: If you suspect a technical bottleneck, it can be worth replacing it with more modern technology – ideally with the current Wi-Fi standard. Halten Sie auch Ihre Software auf dem neuesten Stand: Firmware-Updates Ihrer End- und Netzwerkgeräte können bereits Wunder wirken.
Pro tip: Upgrade your home network
If your work, streaming or gaming room is simply too far away from the router, thick ceilings and walls prevent the Wi-Fi from being optimally distributed in your living area. A bad internet connection is often unavoidable then. No problem: With Wi-Fi boosters from devolo, you can easily bring the Internet to the entire living area via the power line.
10 ms in 10 minutes.
Just connect, set up and you're done!
The Powerline technology from devolo Magic simply directs the Internet signal into the entire living area by means of your power line. This way you can enjoy optimal Wi-Fi reception at any socket in the house. Or simply connect an Ethernet cable for even lower latencies, without having to place it across the entire living room. Forget drilling, dirt and effort:
With devolo, you simply lower your ping to as little as 10 ms.