There's nothing more annoying than streaming your favorite show or movie and pausing the video or stuttering your online game, guaranteeing you'll never win that big win. You can thank package loss for that inconvenience.
What is packet loss and how do you fix it? Read on to understand the problem, learn how to check packet loss, and fix the problem in several ways.
What is a package?
Think of a single email as a convoy of class 2021 buses to Disney World. Each bus carries a portion of the total student file – your email – along with information about where it goes, where it comes from, and who's in the seats.
Networks essentially break your email ̵
Once all buses have reached the destination set, their cargo is unloaded to recreate your message in Mom's email client.
A single package contains three main components:
- Source IP Address
- Destination IP Address
- Package Type
- Package Number
- Part of your general data
- Error correction
- End of package information
The typical package size is approximately 1,500 bytes, although the actual size may be indirect.
What is packet loss?
This is when one of our metaphorical buses doesn't reach Disney World.
Please note that the bus convoy does not go directly from your PC to the destination via a single highway. Instead, the convoy takes the best route through several small towns. For example, your browser connection may go through 20 "stops" before it reaches the nearest Digital Trends host server. That number may be larger or smaller depending on your geological location.
In the same way that roads in the real world could interfere with bus travel, however, packages are sometimes confronted with similar roadblocks and diversions. In the digital world, these traffic jams and diversions can block some buses from reaching Disney World completely. To avoid total disruption, packets are retransmitted, but the result translates into delay when playing online games, choppy video streams, and broken audio. Even surfing the web can feel sluggish.
Network congestion is not the only factor
Packet loss is not primarily linked to network congestion. Other factors can also cause problems, such as:
Faulty hardware: Damaged cables, outdated modems and routers, and corrupt network card drivers can have a huge effect on network performance. Problematic network switches and firewalls will also cause problems for large companies.
Overloaded Devices: In this case, network hardware works harder than usual to handle all traffic. These devices temporarily hold packages until they have time to process and send them. By the time a package reaches its destination, it has arrived too late. In some cases it is thrown away.
Faulty software: Software running on a network device may have flaws – original or as a side effect of a recent update – that require a restart, patch, or complete reinstallation
Incorrect configurations: Single connection network devices set to two different duplex modes (also known as duplex mismatch) will "collide" and discard or delay packets.
Wireless is less reliable: Due to the nature of wireless, packets are more likely to disappear into the digital void due to radio frequency interference, signal strength and distance.
Security Threats: Hackers can control a network device and use it to flood traffic, blocking the destination. Another hack can cause network devices to drop packets intentionally.
How do you see packet loss?
If you suspect you are experiencing packet loss, you can confirm this by using the PowerShell (or Command Prompt) in Windows. Here's how:
Step 1: Right-click the Start button and select Windows PowerShell (Admin) from the Power Menu.
Step 2: Type ping followed by the address of your router (how to find it). For example, you can type:
In the results, you will see a percentage next to Lost . As shown below, you want that number to be zero, meaning all packets reach their destination.
However, that is only local. To see the packet loss between your PC and a website, you need to ping the web address. For example, type the following:
In our test, the results show (currently) zero packet loss, which is excellent as there are about 11 hops between these writer and the site's host server. We performed this test with a PC via a wired connection.
With the ping command, however, you only send and receive four packets. If you want a longer test, type the following instead:
Ping [insert address] -t
This test will continue indefinitely until you press the key combination Ctrl + C .
If you are curious about the number of hops between you and the destination, type the following:
tracert [insert address]
Usually the results show your current IP address along with the addresses of all hops, but we removed them from the screenshot for security reasons.
On MacOS and Linux, you can use Terminal to run the Ping command. On MacOS, Terminal is either pinned to the dock, or you can usually find it in the Other folder on the Launcher.
If you have Linux installed on a Chromebook, Terminal is probably located in the Linux Apps folder on the Launcher.
However, just like the Ping -t command in Windows, the test runs indefinitely, so you have to type the Ctrl + C or Command + C key combination.
In this case, we noticed packet loss when pinging Digital Trends with a MacBook Air on a 5GHs wireless connection. A second test pinging the local router showed no loss on our side. However, a third digital trend re-pinging test showed that packet loss was reduced to zero.
That said, random drops will happen – you just don't want continuous loss.
How do you solve packet loss?
Many problems that cause packet loss may not even be at the end of the connection, but that doesn't mean you can't try to fix it.
Restart your PC
The software running on your PC, be it a driver, service or application, may cause temporary conflicts.
For example, tabs in Google Chrome can consume 75% of your system memory, limiting or crashing other services. Restarting can in some cases fix software issues that can affect network traffic.
Check your connections
It may seem simple, but cables are not fully connected properly can cause all kinds of problems, so it is always worth checking. If you are using a wired connection to your PC or laptop, unplug the cable and plug it back in. Do the same with your router's connection to the phone line to be double sure.
Of course, updates can be annoying as they can bring you to a temporary stop. But they are also necessary, especially if older firmware has flaws causing the underlying device to lose your packages.
Ensure that your PC's operating system and network drivers are up to date, along with any network access software you use, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
Are you using a router? Make sure the firmware is up to date.
Switching to wired connections
Wireless is great for moving around the house while listening to Baby Shark on your phone, but the connection may be prone to radio frequency interference, signal strength, and distance . If you don't see any real connection problems, continue as usual.
But if you experience a noticeable delay on a desktop, laptop, set-top device, game console, or similar device, switching to a wired connection can make a big difference. Not only will you get faster throughput, but most Ethernet cables are also shielded, which can reduce interference.
Disable possible interference
For wireless devices, radio frequency interference can be a problem. That means you should turn off other wireless devices that are not in use, such as wireless headphones, speakers, and even Bluetooth connections on smartphones and tablets. You can also consider using your router's settings to change your wireless channel to reduce competition with your neighbor's Wi-Fi.
If your devices are wired, make sure the cables are not draped near anything that can cause electrical and magnetic interference, especially if the cables are not shielded. If you use a Powerline connection, the electrical layout of your home or office in addition to the “noise” caused by large appliances can cause problems.
Revisit Quality of Service Settings
If other users in your home are competitive with your connection and your work is to be prioritized, you can allocate bandwidth by digging into your router and adjusting the Quality of Service settings to give priority to traffic. That means you need to allocate more bandwidth to your devices than others.
How you get to those settings varies by router. Once found, you can & # 39; rules & # 39; that allocate specific traffic, services or devices with a bandwidth level, such as & # 39; highest & # 39; or & # 39; maximum & # 39 ;. Normally, you should set your network's total upload and download bandwidth to less than your subscription, so that the QoS component has room to make adjustments.
Somewhere between you and the World Wide Web, some digital gremlin ate your packages. While the problem may not be on your end of the ISP connection, restarting everything is a great way to troubleshoot without delving into the details. Unplug your modem and / or router and hold the power button for 30 seconds, then plug it back in.
For all other connected devices, a reboot is also a good idea. The local network assigns an address to your device that can change when the network is restarted (unless it is static). You can try to turn off Wi-Fi or disconnect the Ethernet cable, but you may still experience connection issues until you restart.
Replace or Upgrade Your Hardware
Sometimes outdated or faulty hardware can cause packet loss as well. Upgrading your router and / or modem is a last resort, but if you've tried everything else, paying out for something new is your best bet. We have a great selection in our guide to the best routers to buy in 2020.
If you suspect that your desktop network connection is more to blame, you can also try adding a secondary network card and connecting to it. However, that's not something you can do with laptops or tablets.