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Exploring Key Factors That Affect The Performance Of Networks

In today’s interconnected world, networks are an integral part of our lives, vital in facilitating data transfer and communication. No matter if it is a local area network (LAN) within a company or a wide area network (WAN) connecting multiple locations, network performance is important for ensuring reliable and efficient operation.

Most businesses can not complete their day-to-day operations without a reliable internet connection. Understanding the key factors that affect network performance is essential for businesses and individuals. Still, businesses need to know them more so that any network issue can not impact their productivity.

This article will describe these factors and determine how they impact network performance.

Factors That Affect The Performance Of Networks

Following are the factors that affect the performance of networks:

1. Latency

Latency is one of the most significant factors that can affect the performance of your internet connection. An internet connection with low latency is where you experience small delay times but with high latency connections; there are longer delay times.

While the maximum bandwidth of an internet connection remains constant based on the technology employed, the actual bandwidth we experience can fluctuate over time and is influenced by high latency. Latency, or delays in data transmission, can create obstacles that limit the amount of data flowing through a network, ultimately reducing its effective bandwidth. These delays can be temporary, lasting only a few seconds, or they can be ongoing, depending on the cause of the delays.

You can measure network latency using tools such as trace-route and ping tests. This measuring is done by calculating the time a network packet takes to travel from source to destination, also called round-trip time. Although round-trip time is not the only way to specify latency, it is the most common.

2. Packet Loss

Packet loss occurs when one or more data packets fail to reach their intended destination during transmission. There are several reasons for packet loss. Sometimes the signals slow down over time. Sometimes hardware problems are the reason for packet loss. Networks that have high demand and corrupted packets are also a reason for packet loss. 


When packet loss occurs during data transmission, computers often attempt to recover the missing information. After receiving a packet, the receiving computer sends a signal back to the sending computer, indicating successful receipt. If the sending computer does not receive a signal for a specific packet, it will retransmit that packet to ensure its delivery.

The receiving computer plays a crucial role in acknowledging the received packets. By sending back a signal, it confirms to the sending computer that the packet was successfully received. Suppose the sending computer does not receive an acknowledgment for a particular packet. In that case, it interprets it as a sign of packet loss and initiates the retransmission process for those packets.

Through this mechanism, computers aim to ensure the reliable delivery of data even in the presence of packet loss. By retransmitting the lost packets, the sending computer can fill in the gaps and ensure the intended information reaches the receiving computer successfully. It helps maintain the integrity and completeness of the data being transmitted.

3. Retransmission

Retransmission is described as resending the data packets that have been damaged or lost. It is a mechanism used by the protocols operating on a packet-switched computer network so that you can get consistent communication. In networks, delays, damage, lost packets, and unordered delivery can occur unpredictably.

Protocols employ a combination of techniques to ensure reliable communication over such networks. These techniques involve sending acknowledgments, retransmitting missing or damaged packets, and using checksums to verify data integrity.

By implementing these measures, protocols aim to enhance reliability in the face of the inherent uncertainties of network communication.

Different types of acknowledgments can be used in networking protocols. Let’s have a look at them:

i. Positive Acknowledgment

Positive acknowledgment is one way of sending acknowledgment in which the receiver notifies the sender which packets, segments, and messages are received correctly. This method notifies the sender about packets not being received despite being sent, indicating the need for retransmission.

Positive Acknowledgement with Retransmission is a technique TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) employs to ensure that transmitted data is successfully received. This method works by resending data regularly until the receiving host acknowledges receipt.

By doing so, TCP guarantees that the data reaches its intended destination and confirms its successful delivery through the acknowledgment process.

ii. Negative Acknowledgment

Another type of acknowledgment is negative acknowledgment, in which the receiver notifies the sender about the packets, messages, and segments that are received wrong and need to be retransmitted.

iii. Selective Acknowledgment

Selective Acknowledgement (SACK) allows the receiver to provide a clear list of packets, messages, or segments within a stream have been acknowledged, whether positively or negatively.

With SACK, the receiver can selectively acknowledge specific parts of the data stream, providing more detailed information about the received and acknowledged segments.

This selective acknowledgment mechanism helps improve data transmission’s overall reliability and efficiency by allowing the sender to focus on retransmitting only the necessary segments, thereby reducing unnecessary retransmissions and optimizing the communication process.

iv. Cumulative Acknowledgment

A Cumulative Acknowledgment is a different type of acknowledgment used in data transmission. When the receiver sends a Cumulative Acknowledgment, it confirms to the sender that a specific packet within a stream has been successfully received.

This acknowledgment also assures the sender that all previous packets leading up to the acknowledged packet were received correctly.

By providing this cumulative acknowledgment, the sender can be confident that the earlier parts of the data stream have been successfully delivered, allowing for smoother and more reliable data transmission.

v. Queuing Delay

The queuing delay refers to a task or piece of work waiting in a queue before it can be processed or executed. It plays a significant role in overall network delay. This delay occurs between when a packet enters the transmission queue and when it is transmitted.

The length of this delay depends on the level of congestion on the communication link. Queues can occur due to delays at various points, such as the originating switch, intermediate switches, or the switch that serves the receiving end of the call.

The queuing delay tends to increase if the buffer size, the storage space for incoming packets, becomes larger. When the average waiting time for packets in the queue is long, it results in a long line of packets awaiting transmission. A longer buffer size is generally preferred over a shorter one, as a shorter buffer may lead to packets being discarded, causing even longer delays in the overall transmission process.

vi. Throughput

Throughput refers to the speed or rate at which a computer or network can send or receive data. It measures the capacity of a communications link, indicating how many bits of data can be transmitted per second (bit/s). When we talk about internet connections, they are often described in terms of their throughput capacity.

One approach to improve throughput is to increase the number of buffers reserved by the redirector, a component responsible for managing network performance. Increasing the buffer count allows more data to be stored temporarily, allowing for smoother and faster data transmission.

This increase in buffering capacity helps to enhance network performance and optimize the throughput, enabling data to flow more efficiently through the network.

Final Words - Network Performance

In conclusion, network performance is crucial for reliable and efficient data transfer and communication. Key factors impacting network performance include latency, packet loss, retransmission, queuing delay, and throughput. Latency, measured by round-trip time, affects the delay in data transmission and can limit the effective bandwidth. Packet loss occurs when data packets fail to reach their destination, and retransmission is employed to ensure reliable delivery. Different types of acknowledgments, such as positive, negative, selective, and cumulative, help maintain data integrity and completeness. Queuing delay occurs due to congestion and can be mitigated by optimizing buffer sizes. Throughput indicates the data transmission speed and can be enhanced by increasing buffer capacity. Understanding and addressing these factors are essential for businesses and individuals to maintain optimal network performance and minimize disruptions.

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