Imagine being at the very end of your longest and hardest quest or almost defeating your enemy together with your party while your game lags.
Your character’s moves are sloppy, delayed or you lose connection and are kicked out of the game making the entire team’s effort futile. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it?
Many gamers have experienced such angst during crucial gaming moments and it is not fun. It can ruin your or your teammates’ experience of playing a certain game or even push you away from gaming.
What’s the point in playing if it lags and makes you anxious? It’s worth knowing why this happens so you can easily prevent it.
Many aspects influence your online gaming experience. Connecting with other players while playing your favorite game can be a great experience. It is important that you feel comfortable playing with other players as they can ruin your experience. Online gaming focuses on collaboration so it’s important to find a good community. Game technology is also very important.
Game story, graphics, and operations are crucial to a good gaming experience. Graphics don’t only depend on the producer, but also your settings, gaming equipment, and internet speed. In online gaming, lagging is even worse than in offline games. Other players depend on you and when your computer doesn’t respond to your actions it can stress you out.
There are many reasons why your ping is high and lag strong. The seven primary reasons are connected with server congestion when there are too many players in the game, background applications straining your bandwidth, hardware limitations connected with old routers and modems, network interference, malware attacking your computer, overload of your home network, and software configuration/game settings, which can be too high.
Ping and latency are connected, but they refer to different things. Ping is a diagnostic tool which determines if a specific host can be contacted over an IP network. It measures the time information needs to move between its source and destination and return. Latency indicates the time data needs to travel from one point to another. It’s the time delay of transmission and reception. Ping is used to measure latency.
There is a range that differentiates low and high ping. If the ping is higher, the delay between your actions and the device response is bigger. Even with a quick internet connection, it can still happen. For gamers, ping below 20 ms is considered low, while anything between 50 ms and 100 ms is good or average.
Ping over 150 ms is high. Low ping is more desired because games require good timing and no one wants their game to lag.
Latency refers to the quality of your network connection. There are two components to network connection speeds. The first is bandwidth, or the quality of data that can be sent in a predetermined length of time.
The second is latency, or the amount of time it takes for a particular amount of data to travel. Lower latency is better because it means less time taken for the data to travel.
When you play a game and the ping is high, it shows in lag, the interval between a player’s input and the game’s reaction. Lag is the delay speed that’s caused by high ping. There are four types of lag: input, server, frame rate, and network. Input lag is the delay of the action on the screen after pressing a button. Besides internet connection, it can be affected by a slow monitor.
Server lag is the delay between your computer and the server. It might occur due to outdated hardware, slow internet connection, or server issues. Frame rate lag is what happens when your device can’t keep up with the graphics. A slow graphics card might be the cause for it. Network lag is the delay between your computer and the game server, which can be affected by a slow internet connection and/or server issues.
Lagging can also result in disconnecting you from the server which affects the gameplay of other players.
Factors Impacting Ping / Lag:
1. Server Congestion:
Lag can be caused by game servers being overloaded. There are a few reasons for that, such as natural traffic spikes when too many people use the same server at once. It can happen during peak playing hours when many people play at the same time. When too many players try to access data it slows down transmission and causes higher latency.
Higher latency can impact your gameplay by delaying your character’s movement or missing shots. The connection might be unstable and cause disconnections or frequent loss of packets. The congestion might also cause reduced available bandwidth for every player which makes it challenging to have smooth gameplay.
To avoid such situations you might want to play during off-peak hours. Every game has its peak-popularity hours and it’s worth switching your playing time. You might also switch servers to a different time zone when there are fewer players in the game.
2. Background Applications:
There are some background applications you may have that use the internet without you knowing. They might use it for updates, syncing data or just to perform different tasks. Each update or download there is in the background impacts your bandwidth as it uses up some of your network speed, making it slower.
They also affect your computer’s memory, disk I/O, and CPU. Games usually require a lot of resources so if any other programs require them, they compete for those resources and the potential of lag is higher.
To avoid unnecessary internet usage in the background you might need to pause updates while gaming and close unnecessary apps. And if the background app is something you do not need at the moment, you might as well uninstall it.
3. Hardware Limitations:
You must check your routers and modems to see how old they are. Older items might produce slow speeds and cause a network traffic jam. Newer models can significantly improve your WiFi capabilities.
A gaming router would be perfect for playing games. It is specially designed to maximize the speed of the internet to play games. It has special technologies, like quality of service and it can shape traffic algorithms to reduce lag and latency, which provides smooth gameplay. They are more stable than regular routers and have higher speeds and better latencies.
Prioritizing gaming devices can change your gaming experience, including your modems and routers. Investing in a gaming router can improve your game time. It is also important to regularly update your hardware as it affects their work and ignoring those updates can even make them slower.
4. Network Interference:
Many electronics can affect your WiFi signals. Some of them are microwave ovens, Bluetooth devices, wireless video cameras, baby monitors, or walkie-talkies. Those electronics interfere with the frequency of your WiFi. Some of them use a similar frequency and others interfere with wireless transmission signals.
Sometimes there are physical obstructions to your WiFi, such as walls, doors, or windows. Metal, concrete, and plaster might reduce the range of WiFi signals. Since radio waves are electromagnetic, metal may absorb them. Concrete is a very thick building material so conveying a WiFi signal through it is a challenge.
Plaster might not be very thick, but it can contain metal which can reduce the signal. Mirrors can cause electromagnetic interference and windows are great at reflecting and blocking the signal.
You need to place your router in an optimal position where its signal is the best, and not keep it hidden. It is wise to minimize electronic interference by, for example, putting your router in a room with little electronics, or near your gaming station.
If it’s possible, it’s worth changing the frequency bands of some of your devices. If it’s possible, connect your computer with the router using a cable to prevent all the above from happening.
5. Malware / Adware:
Malware is any invasive software created by fraudsters to steal data, harm, or destroy computer or computer systems. They can consume a big part of your computer’s memory so the resources for other programs are limited.
You might not even notice that there is high data usage and blame it on other things. Malware will slow your internet browser or your operating system or make your computer slow in general.
One of the easy ways in which malware spreads is through ads and pop-ups. While many people close them right away they still can collect data without your knowledge, scam users into paying for services, or, as mentioned, spread malware.
To prevent malware you need to scan your computer regularly. Such things can attack your system overnight so don’t ignore it. It might be useful to also use ad blockers as they filter and block unwanted content.
6. Overloaded Home Network:
There might be an overload in your home network that causes lagging. If you connect too many devices at once it will result in overcrowding. All of those devices will compete to connect to the same router. It results in poor quality and pauses when streaming, latency during gaming, and slow browsing speed.
Both streaming and downloading consume a lot of bandwidth. The quantity of bandwidth needed for streaming is substantial. Downloading can take up some of your bandwidth. If you do those things simultaneously, it might slow your internet and cause lag.
If you have many devices connected to your router it is better to disconnect some of them during gaming, if possible. Fewer devices will not strain your router as much. However, if you can upgrade to a better plan with more bandwidth, then it is the best solution to this problem as it doesn’t require you to limit your connected devices.
7. Software Configuration / Game Settings:
Game settings are also very important when it comes to lag and some of them might even increase it. For example, if your texture-related settings are set too high for your system it won’t cope with it. Very detailed textures are cool-looking, but might cause more issues than you think.
Simply put, your device isn’t able to generate enough Frames Per Second (FPS) to ensure a smooth and pleasant experience. The reason why your actions take longer Is because your computer needs more time to produce each new frame and forward it to your viewing screen.
Unoptimized in-game configurations are one of the things that cause lag. They might not fully utilize the capabilities of the hardware, which would make the gaming experience for players less pleasurable. There are a few reasons why it happens. The game might require more processing power than it normally would.
Sometimes, it might neglect to use certain resources or take more time to process than it should. Even such simple things as keyboard shortcuts might have poor optimization.
You must always ensure that your game settings are suitable for your system as settings that are too high might cause a lot of problems, even with great WiFi. Game software is also very important so don’t hesitate when an update comes up. Ignoring updates can cause more bad than good.
Optimized gaming experience is crucial to a good gaming session. Good gameplay and online community aren’t the only important aspects. High ping can result in lagging, which is something nobody wants. You must prevent it from happening for a good gaming experience.
It is important to keep your modems/router up to date and to not strain them too much with simultaneous steaming and downloading. Always check your game settings because they might not be suitable for your internet speed and gaming equipment.
Be aware of malware and try out some blocking apps. Watch out for applications running in the background as they can affect how your computer works.