If you’re a gamer, you know, or should know, what lag is.
Lag is when you hit a button, and there’s a delay before the action happens.
For example, let’s assume that you’re raiding in World of Warcraft or FFXIV, and you’re a healer.
Your tank is starting to lose health fast, and you try and throw them a heal.
But there’s a delay, perhaps it’s just one or one second, but the delay is enough that the tank dies and the entire raid wipes as a result.
This latency will cause you to be less effective in online games, and there’s also the chance that you’ll see your characters zoom around the map dramatically because your ping is so bad that you’re not seeing the game in real-time.
If you’re having any of these issues, you’ll want to know how to reduce your ping and start playing online games without:
- Disappearing players
- Players spinning in circles
- Players jumping around randomly
- Players appearing out of nowhere
What is Ping and Why Does It Matter?
Good download and upload speeds are not enough to ensure that you’ll have smooth gameplay.
A lot of the games you play online are not bandwidth intensive, but there may still be delays due to ping.
Ping is essentially the amount of time it takes for two computers to talk to one another.
Let’s assume that you have 100ms ping. This means that it takes 100ms for your computer to respond to a request from the game’s server.
The lower your ping, the easier it is for your computer to “talk” with the gaming server.
When does ping become an issue?
Generally, you’ll start to notice issues with your gameplay when your ping is 150ms or higher.
At this rate, you’ll start to lag behind other players and your performance will drop dramatically. Most games will display your ping so that you can better understand the issues that you’re having when talking to the server.
Getting your ping down to 20ms is considered exceptional, but in general, you’ll want your ping to be between 20ms and 150ms.
Reducing Ping is a Game of Whack-a-Mole
The thing with ping is that it’s really a game of whack-a-mole. You never really know what may be impacting your ping, so you’ll need to start with elimination until you find what is causing your issues.
A few of the first steps to take are:
- Stop any current downloads that may be running in the background
- Close any and all programs that are not related to your game
- Ask someone in your household to stop streaming
- Try and choose a gaming server that is closest to your location
- Turn off your updates when you play a game
- Turn off any virus scanning or malware scanning when playing
If someone is streaming Netflix while you’re playing or downloading large files from their computer, this can cause your ping to skyrocket.
I have a tendency to keep my Internet browser open when playing games, but this can also be impacting your performance. A lot of the ads in the background are intensive, especially videos that may be running in the background.
Any intensive processes occurring in the background may take up too much of your computer’s resources, causing the game to run worse and increase your ping, too.
Make sure to close all of the intensive applications and programs running, especially any CPU-heavy process, such as virus scanners that are known to bring older computers to a crawl.
Wi-Fi has a tendency to impact ping, too.
The best setup I have used for gaming is directly connecting the computer to the Internet via an ethernet cable.
The ethernet cable will perform better than Wi-Fi, and the ping will consistently be lower.
But you will be limited by the length of the cord, so this may not be a good option if you want to play on your laptop.
Instead, you may want to move the laptop closer to your router to make sure that distance from the router isn’t impacting your ping.
If none of this works, an old trick that may work for you is to shut off your router, allow it to sit for a minute or so, and turn it back on. Make sure to shut off your modem, too, at this time.
You may have a fast Internet speed, but your router or modem may be causing you to suffer from lower-than-expected speeds.
I have had to purchase several modems and routers over the years because they tend to degrade in performance over time.
If all else fails, you may want to call your Internet provider and have them run tests to see what the issue may be. You can run a test yourself by using SpeedTest.net.
There’s always a chance that your Internet connection is temporarily slower than normal, and the issue will correct itself in time.