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What is network latency and why is it bad

When discussing networks or cloud computing, it doesn’t take long for network latency, or lag to be mentioned. Very minor for some things but major for cloud computing and for enterprise apps, latency is a factor for all of us whether we know it or not. So what is network latency and why should we care?

Network latency is a measure of the delay between sending an instruction from a device to the internet and receiving it back again. For example, to read this blog post, you entered a URL into your browser or clicked a link. Your browser sent a request to your local DNS server to request an IP address then contacted the web server at that IP address to request the page. The server created a copy of the page and sent it to your browser.

Most often, that process takes less than a second and is not noticeable. But when you’re working with time sensitive programs, any delay can ruin the experience.

How fast is fast?

In fiber networks, internet traffic travels at the speed of light. If you have fiber to your business premises it travels that speed all the way to your modem or router. If you have fiber to the cabinet, it slows down for that last mile until it hits your property. If everything is working fine, the speed of light is maintained from end to end.

If it’s not all okay, it can be slowed down considerably. Common causes of network latency can include:

  • Congestion – too much traffic on the network at once.
  • Outages – network outages at your ISP or within the core internetwork.
  • Computer issues – too many people or apps using your home network at once.

As you can imagine, you can only do something about one of those.

Normal latency is regarded as around 50ms for DSL connections, 30ms for cable and 20ms for fiber. Anything much over that and you may have issues.

Network latency

There are a few ways your small business network can be slowed down. A misconfiguration of your router, too many people using it at once or your computer trying to do too many things at once. If you are suffering from lag or network latency, you might like to try one of the following.

  1. Check how many people in your office are on the internet.
  2. Check how many applications on your computer are using the internet.
  3. Check processor utilization on your computer to see how busy it is.
  4. Move from WiFi to Ethernet if possible.
  5. Reboot your computer or router.
  6. Check your ISP website for traffic information or outage notifications.

Lots of things can cause high latency and you can manage some of them but not others. If you check your ISP and there are outages, there’s nothing much you can do. If you detect latency and it’s on your network, address all those things listed above.

If you need more advanced help with small business networking, contact New Jersey Computer Help. We have the expertise you need to keep you earning!

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