What is Latency
There is nothing worse than having your work slowed down by a computer that just seems to disregard your commands. When you click on a tab in your web browser and it takes longer than expected to switch over to it or when you type a sentence in Google Docs but the letters are delayed in showing on the screen, you are experiencing latency — also known as delay or lag. Latency refers to the time it takes for your computer or the internet to respond to your actions and requests. It is often the result of a few common issues.
Here are a few things you can try to fix latency issues:
- Move your computer closer to your wireless router or access point. If you are in a public space try running the HubbleIQ WiFi quality test in different locations within or around the building to find an ideal location.
- Connect your computer to your router using an ethernet cable instead of using wifi
- Close unused tabs and background applications that you’re not actively using
- The latency may be due to someone else’s WiFi quality (i.e. on a video conference call). In that case, have them try the troubleshooting steps in this article as well.
A few common scenarios can help you identify if your computer is struggling with lag. For example, if you’re in the middle of an online game like Fortnite and seem to be shooting a while after you’ve actually pressed the shoot button this is likely a result of latency. Similarly, if your video calls turn into awkward moments of silence because you and the other callers keep cutting each other off or waiting to let the other finish their sentence, it might be because of this same kind of lag.
There are a few causes for these issues. First, it may just be your computer. An out-of-date computer can struggle to respond to user inputs in a timely manner. This means that no matter how high quality your internet service and connection are, your computer still cannot process requests quickly enough to be benefitted from the internet speed. If your computer is all up to date then the next potential problem is signal interference. A signal that has to travel through walls, people, or outdoor environments is at a disadvantage for latency. It is important to note that in the case of online gaming or video conferencing, your computer is not the only one affecting the quality of the experience. It may be that these same issues are taking place on another participant’s computer and so the delay is the result of issues on their end.
Your computer’s slow response times could be the result of some other factors as well. If you are streaming a movie on Netflix or Hulu and keep getting the spinning circle for buffering then latency is not likely the issue. But if clicking rewind or fast forward during video playback gets no response, then lag is a likely candidate. Knowing the difference between lag and other forms of computing delays will keep you from taking unnecessary time to troubleshoot and resolve a technical issue.