Online games are ‘live.’ Games like TF2, Fortnight, PUBG, Apex Legends, etc, all have players playing at the same time. These games are played in real-time with mere millisecond differences.
In order to reduce the time difference between when a player executes an action, and other players see it, multiple servers are set up for online games. Players are encouraged to use servers that are closest to them (geographically), and that have the smallest ping.
While server ping is a good measure of how much lag you will experience in a game, you also have to examine packet loss. Packet loss is something that happens on your own network so no matter how low the ping on a server is, packet loss will nullify if it if it’s high.
What is Packet loss?
When we access anything online, data is exchanged between online servers/computers, and our own system. This data is transmitted in small bits called ‘packets’.
Information is broken down into smaller packets when it leaves a system. These packets are then sent to an online server or computer where they take the form of information again. Think of it as sending someone a book one page at a time where one page is one packet.
If there is significant packet loss, your information is lost during transmission. Regardless of how low ping in a game is, packet loss will cause it to lag.
Find packet loss in games
Packet loss happens on a system, within a network. This means that finding packet loss means analyzing data transmission on your network, and not with the game.
In order to find packet loss, you will have to ping or send information to an online website. You can ping any website but it’s a good idea to ping the game server you’re playing on. Find its IP address.
- Open Command Prompt.
- Run the following command. Replace ‘ip-address’ with the IP address of the server you want to ping.
ping ip-address -n 25
ping 188.8.131.52 -n 25
- Check the value given for ‘Lost’ and it will tell you the packet loss percentage.
Fixing packet loss on network
If you’re experiencing packet loss on your network, and it’s persistent throughout the day, it’s a good idea to contact your ISP. They may be able to change your network configurations or provide insight into how it can be fixed.
The packet loss may also be a result of bandwidth throttling for certain sites by your ISP. Connect a VPN, and then run the ping command to see if the packet loss improves.
Try to reduce the number of devices on the network. A heavily congested network can cause packet loss for some or all devices.
If you’re connected to a network via Ehternet, make sure the wire isn’t damaged, and that all ends are securely connected. If you’re connected to a wireless network, make sure you’re able to get a strong signal from your router.
If you suspect the server you’re playing on is slow, try to ping a different server to see if the packet loss is reduced or if it goes away.