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What Is Packet Loss in Gaming and How to Prevent it?

  • Posted 13/03/2023

Lagging, packet loss and latency are just some elements that infuriate gamers worldwide. No one likes to play an online game just unable to do anything due to lagging and unsatisfactory service. That’s especially annoying when you play some pretty demanding games, shooters, or MOBA titles, where you need to react quickly and you don’t have much time to include the connectivity problems. In this article, we will look closely at a problem called “packet loss,” where the information you receive comes in little packages spread over network devices. As you can imagine, it can influence how you play an online game, as you will not, for example, see your enemy or just a part of them. Of course, there are many solutions to these problems, but none could eliminate the problem par excellence. Well, at least if you are not interested in our proposal. So, without further ado, let’s get into some serious problem-solving!

No Packets Lost with NoPing!
But first – let us introduce you to the beautiful world of NoPing! We are the leading brand in the network traffic industry, where all packet loss occurs. We do not limit ourselves to that tough, as many other network connectivity issues are happening all over the internet. To combat that, we have prepared a complete package of extraordinary tools that will help you with your network performance and will pick up all the dropped packets. NoPing is a high-performance latency reduction software that will lower your ping, correct packet loss, and stabilize your connection. It’s an internet navigator through the seas full of wireless network problems! With NoPing, you can find the shortest route to your destination, which is, in this case, lag-free gaming that will reward you with some extraordinary results! Getting NoPing will not make you a pro instantly, but have you ever heard about pros having internet problems? Well, exactly! Check out our offer at NoPing website to see more details and say goodbye to frustrating gaming once and for all! Check out our a 7-day free trial to test if our software can help you get rid of your connection issues. And with that in mind, let’s get into some details on what packet loss is and how to combat it.
What does Packet Loss Mean?
You don’t have to be a network hardware specialist to notice some issues with your internet connection. Sometimes there are no enemies around, and they suddenly appear. No weapons in the loot box where they should have been. It can be frustrating if you play at a disadvantage, especially in the competitive world. Well, some of those can be ping-related, and some can be tied to your network infrastructure, but sometimes it means you have experienced a packet loss in your wireless networks. What does it mean? To put it in simple terms, every data coming to you doesn’t get there with this non-stop stream of knowledge that is being uploaded to your PC. It comes in packages. The sheer amount of data sent out would be enormous, and the processing of all that would take ages! That is why the data is being portioned to travel faster. Unfortunately, not all information gets there. Some of them get lost, like your Amazon packages. Some get damaged. Some are stopping by on the highway for some donuts and coffee and are getting late. There are multiple reasons why it happens. Maybe the servers are at fault because they have difficulty sending out all the data. It could be your router firmware from 2005. Maybe many people are using your network, and it got clogged. Or maybe the issue lies within the cable that does not send the data fast enough, or your internet service provider does not want you to win. All of those things could contribute to the fact that you are having internet problems. We’ll describe it in more detail further in the article. First, look at the main difference between packet loss and the “common villain” in this circumstance – ping.
Packet Loss and Ping
You may ask, though, but my ping is low. Why am I having these issues? Well, not all online gaming problems are connected to ping. There is a lot of those, that is for sure, but ping is concerned with something a tad different. Ping shows you not the information on the data that arrived to you. It measures latency. So, it does not show you how many packets traveled here and there, but the average speed of each one of them. So, if you have a low ping, you will quickly exchange the information between the server and your router; there will be no lags, as all the information will travel fast. If you have a ping at, for example, 10ms, it means that you sent information about wanting to pass the ball for example, and it took 10ms to travel to the server and come back to you with the result. To make it clearer, 1ms is 0.001 second. As you probably can’t react to that number, here is a simple introduction to the world of ping.
  • The best ping, an exceptional one, is what we call low ping. Those would be all numbers below 20ms.
  • Then, there is a very good-average ping from 50-100ms. You can get around it, but it can impact your play, especially in faster games.
  • The next one is high ping which is everything over 150ms. It’s borderline unplayable at this point, and you will be experiencing a lot of lagging.
What is lagging, in essence? Well, it’s the delayed response between what you wanted to do and what you saw on the screen. If you press “shoot” and it takes more than an instant for an action to show up on the screen, you may have some latency problems. Lagging can also happen if you experience packet loss. The games will want to show you all the information they got, so when the game notices something is missing, it will ask for that information again. So, as you can imagine, it will take additional 10ms to get it, and then add to get something else, etc. As you can see, even if your ping is low, you will still be experiencing lagging as if your ping was high just because of the network packet loss, only because your game will have to go back and forth for the same thing over and over again.
What Are the Effects of Packet Loss?
So, let’s talk about some details about packet loss in that case. The first and most important thing is the one we’ve stated above: lag. Resending packets can reduce the overall speed of your data, and some of the dropped packets may never reach their final destination, making you lag with low ping. It can also influence your audio and video quality. If you don’t have enough packets, you will encounter issues with seeing and listening to the information the game was supposed to present but can’t due to the lost packets. How can you notice? Your screen may freeze. The characters may speak, but there will be no sound. Or just overall – your gameplay will get twisted, and you will not be able to do anything. Another thing that can happen is that you may encounter difficulty gaining access to the apps or the internet. So no more Spotify or Apple Music for you. If you don’t have some basic information about what kind of playlists are available right now or even the color of the User Interface, you may not be able to access this information. As you can see, it can cause many problems, especially if you are playing fast-paced games when there is just a tiny chance for you to beat your opponent, and that opponent will not show up at the right time because of the lost packets.
How to Detect Packet Loss?
Now that we know what packet loss is, let’s find out how to check if we are dealing with this. Finding the reason for your connectivity problems is the key to getting rid of them, as you will not be able to fight something you don’t understand the root cause of. There are different solutions to each problem, so if you are experiencing ping – there are other ways of approaching that. If you are experiencing packet loss – we will guide you through some quick fixes later in the article. Here is how to check if you are experiencing packet loss. Step-By-Step Instructions
  • The first thing you need to do is to open a command prompt on your computer. Just write “cmd” in the start menu, and it will be the first thing that will pop up.
  • After a window will pop-up, write: ping [desired destination] and press enter. The desired destination can be any site to which your computer will try to send packets. You can just put there as it is one of the safest and most reliable websites.
  • Then, press Enter to start the test.
Your computer will send some packets to your chosen destination and measure all the details about the travel. It will show you how fast it was, how many packets were lost, and whether it was a fun trip. The last thing may not be accurate, though.
What Causes Packet Loss?
But why is it happening after all? We’ve mentioned a few potential causes briefly before, but there are multiple reasons why it could occur to you particularly. Of course, we can't detect it with one hundred percent certainty, but we can give you some usual reasons why it could happen.
Network Congestion
So many devices and so little bandwidth. Network congestion is one of the most obvious reasons your network could get clogged and drop packets. Using the internet during high usage time, with lots and lots of devices, could be a challenging time for the bandwidth that may be insufficient. Think about it this way, going back to our Amazon example – if they had four clients, everything would go pretty smoothly, right? You could even drive separate care to each location. But, if you have 400 million customers, things can get a little tense after some time, and some packets may get lost. It’s the same with network congestion.
Sometimes, it’s not in the cloud; sometimes, it’s in the wired networks of your system, the hardware. In that case, you can find some faulty modems, old routers, cables cut through by rats or related issues. Many things can break, especially regarding cables, so be sure to double-check everything to clearly understand what’s going on. Faulty hardware can sometimes be easily fixed by just replacing a network device which can be one of the causes of packet loss.
But when it’s not hardware, it can always be faulty software. This is rarely the case, but sometimes your software can be so old that it will start losing unfamiliar packets. Or it starts getting leaky as it is not being serviced as thoroughly as the new versions. An update is always a great idea when it comes to connectivity.
Network Attacks
Well, you need to consider that someone may attack your network. It will influence your transfer speed and can take down the entire network. If that occurs, you will surely experience packet loss, but it will be the least of your worries. Stay safe online, and don’t click on shady links, as they may influence your Call of Duty form. And that’s an important argument.
Transmission Errors
Sometimes it just happens, and you can do nothing about it. You will experience some data loss throughout your entire internet career. Some data packets are just not meant to arrive at the destination. It happens less and less with each technological advancement we make, but it will sometimes be the case that you will lose part of your gun. Remember to politely explain that situation to your enemies online via chat. They will surely be understanding.
Is Packet Loss Expected?
As with all things in the vast interwebs, packet loss just happens, as we’ve explained, and data transmission errors will occur whether we like it or not. So you don’t have to panic if it happens to you. The reasonable amount is up to 1% of packets. If it’s like that, it’s more or less within the margin of error and shouldn’t affect your gameplay. If it gets above 2%, it’s time to investigate the issue and look for causes. This will probably influence how you play, and you will notice the difference. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is start getting ahead of the problem and just find a solution that will take care of all your lag-related issues. The answer could be in the following graphic you’ll see.
How Can You Avoid Packet Loss?
So, how to get ahead of this problem? There are many ways to do so, but sometimes it’s meant to be. However, you can take some steps to create the single perfect environment for gaming. A “no packet left behind” kind of thing. Here are some ways to benefit your network, whether it’s a game server issue or you just have low network speed.
Be sure that you are safe. The best thing you can do to counter the attack is to prevent it. Do not give anyone your passwords, be sure to change them every few weeks and have a solid security against network attacks.
  • Update everything you can. Older software can be the source of your lagging issues and will overall influence the health of your system.
  • Do a ping test from time to time. Be sure to understand your network’s speed and if it’s getting lower and lower over time. Having this kind of information will benefit you in the long run. Network monitoring often goes unnoticed, but it can make or break your system as a whole!
  • Check your cables! And everything that is a solid matter involved in your internet connection. Be sure to clean it properly, or just not leave some bread crumbs on your cables.
How to Fix Packet Loss?
To fix packet loss, we have prepared some tips and tricks that could help you in the short run. If it happens repeatedly, you should find someone to look at it, as it should not be doing that.
  • Use a Gaming VPN. Software like NoPing can help you with various connection issues. We recommend you try out our 7-day free trial and check if it’s the right remedy for your gaming-related problems.
  • Contact your internet provider. Sometimes, the issue may lie somewhere else. If nothing helps, contact your internet provider and explain the problem.
  • Cut off all unnecessary internet connections. You never know if your girlfriend, roommate, or even your phone is not downloading gigabytes of updates for no apparent reason and clogging your network.
  • Close all the unnecessary apps in the background. You will see that so many things are taking up your bandwidth without you even noticing it. Everything needs to find some better version of itself, even the machines, so it can be an issue that influences your packet loss.
  • “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”. The truth is this – we don’t know how computers work as a specie, so it sometimes helps to give them a little time so they would think about their behavior. But in all seriousness, sometimes resetting all your network devices can bring them back to the appropriate level.
  • Switch the port! Ethernet port, preferably. Sometimes a broken port can lead to packet loss. And if you see that your cable’s end is rusty and broken, consider changing it.
  • Optimize your router! Sometimes it’s best to work with what you’ve got because your friend will not agree to cut off the internet. But you can always prioritize your device. It will not change your gameplay but can lead to some packets being recovered.
  • Plug-in – meaning, stay online with a cable. Sometimes WI-FI is not the perfect option. A wired connection is usually more stable and, in most cases, a lot faster in general, so if you can connect your computer directly to the internet, it’s always a good idea.
There is also one thing that could be considered but needs a tad more explaining: the network protocol you are using to transfer data. Essentially, there are two options. You are either using a TCP or UDP to transfer data. TCP means – transmission control protocol – the more stable option. It simulates a connection and checks every packet to see if it meets standards. If not, it will send it back. UDP means – user datagram protocol. It’s faster as it does not resend any packets because there is no error recovery, but you can get some pretty interesting results if your packets are missing. For reliable gaming but a bit slower, we recommend using TCP internet protocol as it will fix the issue of losing packets. If you are confident that your network is stable, you can also check out UDP. The best way to go about it is to get a VPN service or some specified tools in order to change it. You can also contact your service provider. Doing it by yourself would require some in-depth knowledge about those systems and some coding/HTML experience as well.
What Is Packet Loss in Gaming – Conclusion
And here we are, at the end of our road. We hope you enjoyed this article and learned a bit or two about packet loss in gaming. Of course, losing some packets will never “truly” disappear, but you can prevent most of your potential issues with the right maintenance and getting ahead of the problem. Of course, if you have some not-that-great internet connection, it will surely be a recurring issue that any troubleshooting will have a problem with, but overall – it can be solved pretty easily in the long run. Preferably – while using NoPing services, for sure!

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About the blog

Blog destined for news, articles, monitoring of the e-sports scenario and much more around the world of games. Created by NoPing, a Brazilian company active in the gamer market for over 5 years, always looking to improve the experience of online players.