Packet Loss – Defined, Explained, and Explored

Did you know that your router drop packets? The entire system, from your Wi-fi (wireless networks) to network switches, work on packets. Are you wondering if packet loss is a big deal? What causes packet loss? How can you fix them? 

Get ready to learn everything about what is packet loss and how you can fix it. You will also find some of the culprits causing packet loss for you. Without further ado, let’s begin:

packet loss

Packet Loss Guide Overview 

What Is A Network Packet? 

Did you know that everything you do on the internet is transported through packets? These are not real-life packets but network packets. In simple words, network packets are small units of data that transfer from one PC to another. That’s how you receive all the emails, content to download or dream, etc.

High-speed internet is all about sending these packets most efficiently. They work on network efficiency to ensure that you receive the best performance. Of course, they are also responsible for loading any kind of content. If you’re failing to load even a single webpage, there might be some packet data issue.

A network packet doesn’t just get the work done by transporting it to your system. It also travels to the required hardware and software to provide the apt results. Packet loss is when you are having problems doing anything on the internet. It could be loading the email, downloading or streaming content, or something else.

What Is Packet Loss?

Are you facing speed or bandwidth issues even though you are paying for high-speed internet? Perhaps there are some problems with keeping up the connectivity. It might just be a packet loss issue.

A packet loss, in general, is when the network packet doesn’t reach where it is supposed to be. For example, when a file download interrupts abruptly for an unknown reason. It could be due to packet loss.

Wired connections have a lower chance of packet loss than wireless networks. Wi-Fi packet loss is one of the most common problems people face. You might go about your day and not even realize it.

Generally, you can solve the problem by staying in the close vicinity of your Wi-Fi router. But, that can’t always be the case. There are also other ways to fix this problem.

While it doesn’t sound like a big deal for day-to-day life, it can be catastrophic. Primarily if you’re an employee working from home or run an entire company on the internet. That’s when packet loss can become a significant issue.

It isn’t just about investing in new gear or systems. There are many other maintenances and potential security leaks. Any data loss maintenance can cost thousands of dollars.

What Are The Causes Of Packet Loss?

causes of packet loss

Brace yourself because this list is going to blow your mind. You are going to learn about all the causes of packet loss. It can be a surprising list. So, let’s have a look.

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1. Network Congestion

We live in a world that is expanding digitally. New users are joining the internet. This has developed into a series of network connections. Network congestion takes place when there are too many people using the same network.

It can be when too many people use a website, app, etc., and it becomes like a traffic jam. Imagine how thousands of cars travel on a single lane at the same speed. Even though they have the same speed, they can slow down the entire route. This is how network congestion impacts packet data loss.

When network traffic gets higher, some packets get delayed from reaching their destination. As a result, your connection speed won’t matter because the packet isn’t coming through. There is the latest software that recovers lost packet data from boosting efficiency. But, it is far from being perfect.

2. Network Hardware Issues

Another significant factor is old or outdated hardware. If you’re using an old router or device to connect with the internet, there will be problems. Outdated network hardware, network adapters, drivers, etc., can slow down the performance.

Try to get the latest network drivers, modems, routers, and devices to use. The new technology is always better due to better connectivity. Outdated chipsets, motherboards, or anything, in general, could land you into packet loss.

3. Software Issues

Another reason for network issues and packet loss is software bugs. New beta-version software can have a problem. But older software is more likely to have problems. It’s because older software hasn’t undergone the necessary updates.

These updates help optimize the performance to maintain impeccable performance. Most latest tools and software use size compression technology. That’s why any file size today is significantly smaller than older ones.

Ergo, if you use old software, it will impact your network performance. They even turn down your system performance.

4. Threats To Software

Software threats can be of many types, not just software bugs. Outdated software or untrusted software can cause potential security breaches. Many hackers and cybercriminals use these breaches for packet drop attacks.

Another common name is DOS (Denial of service). It is when they overload a system by dumping data. You need to maintain the best internet security like firewalls. Another way to control security breaches is by using authentic and genuine software.

5. A Device Overload

Have you noticed how there never seems to be enough speed in a device? Even if you get the latest device with high-end specs, they will end up slacking off.

It is because of the updating of apps and software. They are also undergoing significant tweaks to keep up with the modern requirements. As a result, your device might get overloaded by excessive app use.

The specific device overheating is one of the frequent occurrences. Since data packets also need good hardware conditions, it may cause packet loss.

6. Wired Vs. Wireless Connection

A wired connection will significantly have better speed and connectivity. It will reduce data packets loss, as well. But you can’t do it all the time for all the devices. In the end, you might have to use the wireless connection, and that causes network packet loss.

7. Bad Or Faulty Network Configurations

If you have an IT department, they can help with this issue. But, most people don’t have the luxury to get a tech guy. Most of us don’t have any knowledge about the tech world. Things can get complicated.

A wrong network configuration or fault in configuration can lead to packet loss. It could be as simple as using a false data connection or server.

How to Diagnose Packet Loss

The best way to diagnose packet loss is through network monitoring. There are many ways for you to achieve this:

  • Test your network speed and download a tool that shows real-time internet speed.
  • Use different communication tools like Google Meet, Zoom, Whatsapp calls. Check to see if video quality differs from one platform to another.
  • Change network servers to see if there is any significant boost in the performance.
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The Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) or ping is the most common method. You can go to Google and type to test the ping. There is also a command prompt method available to check ping:

  • Open command prompt and type ping, then press enter.
  • This will give you an array of options.
  • Simply type ping and an IP address to receive the statistics.

You can also give a try to the Packet Loss Test. It will analyze your network connection and system to provide you with a quick insight. While it is not perfect, it does get the job done for network monitoring.  

What Does Packet Loss Mean for Users?

If it’s not clear so far, packet loss comes with a wide array of issues. Here is a brief overview:

  • Reduction in the internet upload and download speed. It will reduce the network performance.
  • Files will take more time to upload or download. The same applies to the content you stream.
  • If you’re an online gamer, you will have a higher ping. High ping issues are awful for pro-gamers.
  • Packet loss for an enterprise might mean a reduction in productivity. It can take more time to get things done.
  • The internet voice and video calls take a significant toll on the system and connection.
  • You will find it challenging to browse your favorite app or website. They might slow down.

Security threats, overloaded devices, low data transmission, etc., are other issues you will encounter. 

This is just an overview of what it means for users to have data or network packet loss. There can be other consequences as well, such as crashing the system. Your entire network might shut down, and there could be a potential loss of data.

How to Stop Packet Loss

Solution to packet loss

The cruel truth of the situation is that there is never any way to stop packet loss entirely. You will always have some form of packet loss. Even if you own a top-notch system or network connection. The services aren’t up to the mark to completely stop packet loss.

But, you can significantly reduce packet loss from your system. Packet loss is a problem if it is interfering with regular tasks.

For example, your apps are taking too long to run or load the content. Maybe you are incapable of having an efficient and clear video call. If your day-to-day activity gets hindered because of packet loss, you should get it in check.

Thankfully, there are ways for you to reduce packet loss. Even if you can’t stop it, these methods are effective. You will see a significant change in the network performance and transmission. Are you ready?

How to Reduce Packet Loss

1. Reboot Your Entire System

This applies to the entire setup that you have. Start with the router and reboot it. You can also try to reset the router. To reset:

  • Find a small button given usually on the backside of the router.
  • Long press it for around 10 seconds for it to reboot.
  • This will reset the router entirely.

If you do this, you might have to reset your password and other aspects. But, it can be worth the effort.

You also have to reboot your entire system. If you’re using a PC, restart it. For the Phone, you can reboot it, as well.

2. Check For The Connectivity Tools

If you’re using wireless tools, check to see if you have the best options. Some laptops and mobiles have outdated wifi adapters (Like 2.5 GHz) that will compromise speed. Make sure that you have the latest driver and hardware to back it up.

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Similarly, check your router and ensure that it supports the type of connection you want. If nothing works, you can establish a cable connection with your system to reduce the packet loss. This is the best option for those who work from their home network.

Remember, even if your built-in hardware is outdated, you can buy a new one. You can add a new Wifi device to your laptop to upgrade the connectivity.

3. Check For System And Software Upgrades

Always check for the updates of your operating system. Windows 10 and other latest versions have automatic updates. They install when you are not working on your system. But sometimes, they might need extra permission or action.

So, always check your system’s security and updates.

This point also applies to the software. If you have the software, you frequently use, update it. It might help you boost network performance and reduce packet loss.

4. Get Better Hardware

In the long run, it would be better to buy the latest hardware. If you have the budget, you should consider getting it done. Try to get the newest device, router, and cables. These will help you get better connectivity.

You can skip this step if you already have a decent system or are new enough. If you don’t have the budget, that’s fine. You can move to the other steps.

5. Enhance The Internet Security

The final step for you to take is improving internet security. Use windows defender and scan your system once in a while. You can also enable the firewall. If needed, opt for premium antiviruses like Malwarebytes and Avast.

Finally, you can use VPN and their remarkable services. They come with an array of security features like encryption. You can maintain anonymity, reduce hacking attempts and improve data packets services. There will be a significant reduction in network packet data loss.

6. Use Quality Of Service (QoS)

Quality of Service is not a single tool. It is a collection of various tools available online. You can use them to enhance the quality of your network transmission. They might even have network monitoring tools. It can reduce the cause of packet loss drastically. You can check for various Quality of Service. Use tools like:

FAQs

What is packet loss, and how do I fix it?

A packet loss means a decline in network performance. Everything works on packets, including the entire wireless network. If there is network traffic, you will have a loss packet. You can fix it by using the above-given tips. 

How do you fix bad packet loss?

All packet losses are bad packet losses. You need to find the cause of packet loss before you can tackle the packet loss issues. Try to use the above-given tools, network monitoring tools, ping tests, and such. These will help you learn more. 

How does packet loss affect gaming?

Online gaming is a real-time endeavor. When there is a packet loss, your device will have high latency. High latency means that your bandwidth can’t support the network connection. The entire communication will slow down, and the game will have a high ping. That will result in an unpleasant experience. 

Is seven packet loss bad?

That would depend on what is causing packet loss. It also depends on the tools you are using. High packet loss is generally quite bad for the system as it is.