We rely on strong network connections for nearly everything we do. From work to video games to paying your bills, our world falls apart without good internet. The occasional outage is unavoidable no matter how many G’s we purchase, but if you’re curious about the specifics behind those error messages then you’re in the right place. Keep reading to learn more about common network issues, their jargon, and how you can fight back.
Understanding performance metrics
Ever hop on the internet to try troubleshooting your connection issues just to be met with a wall of text that might as well be in a different language? Yup, we’ve all been there. Let’s take that confusion out of the mix and break down the meaning behind the metrics.
Latency is the speed at which your browser loads content. Low latency is a good thing, it means your connection is solid and you’re ready to go. High latency means that your web pages, zoom calls, and tv shows are going to experience slow loading speeds. There are a few possible causes for high latency.
1. Distance from server
Being physically far away from the server that you’re sharing data with is a common cause of latency. While it may seem like our web pages load like magic, information still takes time to travel from one place to another. A local news page with servers a couple of blocks away is going to load a lot faster than a video streaming platform across the world.
2. Content-heavy websites
Another self-explanatory one, when you try to open web pages that have a ton of data, it takes your computer a bit of extra time to load everything. In the same way that it takes longer to walk to the next town over than the corner store down the street, it will take even longer if you’re carrying a bunch of grocery bags.
3. Device age
Devices get old, lithium batteries wear out, and with them goes our loading speeds. It’s the technological circle of life, and while there are ways to speed up old devices sometimes it’s best to bite the bullet and get a new model
4. Hardware issues
Similarly, latency can sometimes be caused by physical malfunctions with your device. Bringing it in to get fixed up by a professional is the best way to tackle this problem, and usually not much else can be done.
5. High website traffic
When too many people try to access the same website all at once, it gets difficult for the server to send out the information it needs as when there are just a few users. If you’ve ever bought concert tickets you know the struggle with this one. Another place you may have experienced this is when trying to play an online video game. If it’s especially popular or new, you might even get booted from the server until a space frees up
Everything sent across the internet is delivered in what are called “packages”. They are little pieces of information that get sent all at once to load web pages quickly and fully. When these packages don’t all get sent at the same time then you can experience what’s called jitter.
Jitter is the measure of how consistent the time is between when packages are sent from a server to when they are received by your device. You’re most likely to experience jitter with websites that use a lot of back-and-forth data transmissions like video calls and video streaming. Just like with latency, you want jitter to be low.
Other important vocab
Still lost on some of the language used to discuss network issues? Not to worry! Here are some other popular words you’ll probably hear thrown around.
You’ve seen this word a lot throughout this post, so it’s probably important to know what it’s about! Put simply, servers are giant computers with the purpose of storing data to send out to personal devices. You might recognize servers as those blinking electronic towers you see in the basement of schools or the office.
Internet service provider (ISP)
An internet service provider, or ISP, is the entity responsible for providing you with internet. They’re the people installing those little routers and modem boxes in your living room.
Another word you’ll run into when reading about web speeds is ping. Ping is the measurement used to represent latency and is expressed in milliseconds. While they sound interchangeable, ping refers to the speed at which signals are sent and received between servers and devices.
You’ve probably heard your internet service provider talk about this word before. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be sent in one specific network. Having a high bandwidth means you can quickly send large packages of information while having low bandwidth is a recipe for slow loading speeds.
WiFi versus ISP issues
Slow internet speeds can often be chalked up to issues with either your network or your ISP. Issues with your personal network might be due to mechanical problems with your modem or router. This can be from broken parts or sometimes just age. Resetting your router and following up with your provider is the typical course of action here.
Sometimes, however, your ISP will experience issues across the board, resulting in slowdowns for everyone. If your internet is still slow after making sure the issue isn’t on your end, it’s a good idea to reach out to your provider directly.
Having a reliable speed test is the best way to get around having to be your own IT desk. HubbleIQ provides a comprehensive dashboard that empowers you to solve your network problems - no scouring Google required. The software breaks down your metrics into an easy-to-understand report that takes the confusion out of network problems. Get off the help forums and back to what matters with HubbleIQ.
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