How to Test Internet Latency

In case you’re wondering, internet latency is the time it takes for data to transfer from one source to another. Like the amount of time between clicking on a link and when the page loads. Now for many internet users, there’s not a lot of time between the command (when you tell the internet to do something) and the action (when the internet follows through).

Poor internet latency is like sending a letter in the mail versus sending a text message. You might still be happy there’s a letter in your inbox, but you’ll never be able to respond to urgent requests.

Unfortunately for gamers, technology gurus, and other users, you might be able to hear the crickets chirping from the moment you click a link to the time the link opens. This is because of slow internet latency.

For internet users, no latency is the best kind. Latency can affect you when you’re sending an email, playing a game, chatting over Zoom, browsing the internet, and so many more scenarios. There are three main ways you can test your internet latency.

How can I test my internet latency?

There are already hundreds of free internet latency tests that you can find and use. Your internet service provider (ISP) probably has one on their website. If you’re not sure which one to use, our internet speed test measures your latency (just click on Details after running the test).

If you’re wondering why it’s important to test internet latency, think of it like a strep test: if your computer isn’t responding to you, there’s a number of reasons it’s not working correctly. Speed, latency, malware, or mechanical issues are just a few examples. By testing your internet latency, you become the doctor diagnosing your computer.

For any kind of internet latency test or speed tests, we recommend making sure only one device is connected to your network. Having multiple devices on the same network while running the test could skew the results.

What’s the difference between a latency test and a speed test?

Speed and latency are two very different things that look very similar. A speed test (also known as bandwidth) measures how fast data travels over the internet. A latency test measures the time it takes for the internet and your computer to respond to your actions.

If you’re looking for the fastest internet, then high bandwidth and low latency is the best combination. Imagine you’re struggling with watching a YouTube video because it won’t load. This could be because of the speed of your internet or it could be because of latency.

Now imagine you’re watching the same video, an old-fashioned cartoon with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Suddenly, the sound is lagging behind the actions of both characters. Bugs Bunny says something to Daffy, but by the time Daffy replies you can see Bugs Bunny talking again. This is due to internet latency, not necessarily your internet speed.

If this happens, you’ll want to run a latency test on your computer. Remember, the lower, the better. Anything below 100 milliseconds (msec) is considered decent, but it’s best if your latency is closer to 20 or 30 msec.

What can I do to improve my internet latency?

Move closer to your router. Sometimes the distance from your computer to the router can make it feel like your internet is running at a snail’s pace. Moving closer to the router could help solve the problem.

Make sure you don’t have too many open tabs and avoid running multiple programs at the same time. When your computer is focused on too many things at once, it can really impact your latency.

Restart your router and PC. Sometimes you just need to let your computer and router get some sleep. Maybe it’s been a while since they’ve taken a break. You’ll never guess how many complicated IT issues are solved just by restarting your device.

If you really want to improve your latency and don’t care whether you’re wireless, connect to your router directly using an Ethernet cable. This is known to improve your internet latency and stop your computer from lagging.

If all of the above doesn’t help, you can always call your ISP and ask if they can help you over the phone. There might be something they see that you don’t when you’re trying to solve your internet’s latency.

If you’re still not happy with your latency or internet speeds, it may be time to upgrade your plan or break up with your internet service provider.

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