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What is Latency? Everything You Need to Know

Today, every business is working using  Internet and Internet applications to transfer their confidential data and necessary information. Salesmen use videoconferencing to sell products and have online pages for customers to shop online.

Business partners are also communicating from different parts of the world with the help of an internet connection. Any interruption in this network can cause big trouble.

Such latency can slow down the whole process, and businesses could suffer loss because of delays in the transmission of information and important files.

In this article, we will see how we can minimize and can remove it to run our business and other activities smoothly.

Latency in Simple Words

Latency and delay are often used interchangeably. It is a synonym for delay.  Latency means the time your system takes to provide output. 

It is the intermediate handling time of computers; some of us think that one system is connected with another, and it directly gives us input. But it’s not true; the data follows a proper route to reach its destination.

These days, fiber optic cables are being used for data or signal transmission from one place to another. This transmission occurs at the speed of light, but during this route, the data has to pass several checkpoints. And this total time is known as Latency.

Types of Latency

Latency has different types; it occurs on different networks and mediums. Let’s take a look at its types.

1. Network Latency

Network latency is the delay between communication over a network. It also includes the time required to travel from one point to another.

Those networks that have longer delay times are called higher latency networks.

2. Fiber Optic Latency

It is the time it takes for light to travel a specific distance through a fiber optic cable. For every kilometer(km) covered, a latency of 3.33 microseconds always occurs, based on the speed of light.

In real-time, the latency of a fiber optic cable is 4.9 microseconds per kilometer because light travels slowly through a cable.

High latency occurs because of the usage of low-quality fiber optic cables or due to any distortion in cables. A good quality fiber optic cable can lessen the latency rate.

3. WAN Latency

A WAN can also cause latency; it is a busy network that provides services and directs different networks.

It sometimes happens when the resource is requested from a local area network or any other computer elsewhere.

4. Internet Latency

Internet latency depends on the amount of distance data has to cover. When the data has to travel for a longer time on a wide area network, the latency will be higher.

5. Audio Latency

It is the delay between the creation of sound and sound being heard. This delay depends on the speed of sound, which varies from medium to medium.

Sound travels faster through solid objects, and slowly through water. It is almost unhearable when it travels through the air. Latency around 8 to 12 microseconds is acceptable.

6. Operational Latency

Operational latency is the time interval that a computer takes for several operations. It also becomes a reason to cause server latency.

When an operation runs in a flow one by one, it takes time to run the next operation after completing the previous ones. This time is called operational latency.

7. Mechanical Latency

A time lag happens because of any input device to the output. For instance, because of keyboard malfunction, if we could not enter our data requirements quickly, or because of a computer mouse.

8. Disk Latency

Disk latency is the time that computer devices require to read data and then store this data. This delay can occur because of low storage capacity.

9. Computer and OS Latency

Computer and OS latency is the delay when sending a data request and the time it takes to proceed with the request. There are several causes for why it happens.

Causes of Latency

Different factors become a cause of latency, here we are going to discuss a few reasons:

i. Medium of Transmission

The medium of transmission plays a great role in causing latency. It means it depends on through which medium you are transmitting your data, video or voice.

For instance, a packet traveling over a T1 cable will cause lower latency than one traveling over a Cat5 cable.

ii. Size of the Packet

A packet that is larger in size will take  longer time to travel than a smaller size packet.

iii. Packet Loss

Latency can also occur due to the loss of packets when large packets fail to reach their destination these failed packets become an obstacle and create latency.

As a result, new packets require more time to travel from one point to another.

iv. Signal Strength

You need a strong internet connection if your signals are weak and not strong enough to carry out the whole data transmission process.

v. Distance

Longer distances also become a cause of latency if the devices that are sending requests are placed far away from the responding devices. Network problems also arise due to long distances.

vi. A Large Volume of Data

Latency can also be caused if the data is large. For instance, if the data you are transferring or receiving has a large volume, processing, sending, and receiving will take longer And will increase the latency.

vii. Multiple Numbers of Routers

During data transmission, data travels through different routers, which increases the number of hops and it causes an increase in latency.

Network design and processing of different web pages also cause latency time.

How to Measure Latency?

You can measure latency in the following ways:

  • Time to First Byte:

It records the time that the first byte of the data takes to reach from the server to the client once the connection is established. It depends on two factors:

  • The time that a web server takes to work on the request and develop a response
  • The time consumed by the response to reach its client

TTFB measures the server’s processing time and network delay time.

  • Ping Command:

A ping is an internet program that is used to test the accessibility of a host computer to a specific destination IP address. Network admins use it to decide the time required for data to reach its destination and receive a response from the server. The reliability of a  network can also be checked from this.

  • Round Trip Time:

The time consumed to send a request from the client and the time server takes to send back the response. Network latency becomes a cause of round-trip delay. With RTT, latency can be measured using network monitoring tools because data has to go through different networks and paths while traveling.

Ways to Improve Latency

Here are some ways that will help users to reduce latency. Let’s go through them:

i. Usage of CDN

Now, we are clear that latency means the distance between a client and a server, and we can decrease latency by bringing two of them close together. For this purpose, you can use a Content delivery network(CDN). It is a network based on the distributed majority of servers that helps deliver web content to clients as fast as possible, no matter where they belong.

While using a CDN, you don’t need to wait for only one server to send the data, instead, CDN will provide you with different servers from all over the world that are close to the client, with just one click.

When the server sends the data to a nearby client, it also makes a copy of the data. And if some client from the same area requests that data, CDN will send the data much more quickly even than before.

ii. CSS Minification and Size of JavaScript Files

Most web pages offer a combination of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. The issue that users have to face is when a user loads a page, all files of JavaScript and CSS must be sent from the server to the browser web page.

That will cause more HTTP requests it will increase latency. And you can’t help yourself because files of CSS and Java can not be removed from the web pages.

You can minimize the size of these files. They will travel fastly from one server to another. Low burden means low latency.

iii. Compress the Images

To lessen a website’s  burden and  the HTTP request, you should compress the images. You should reduce the image size to less than 100 KB.

If reducing its size also affects the image quality and clarity, you should not reduce it that much, just try to reduce near 100 KB.

Different tools are available today for this purpose. Just by uploading your picture there, you can easily compress it and download it.

iv. Usage of Ethernet Cable

The usage of cable for Internet connection has always proved beneficial. There will be an issue that only you can access the internet and no one else.

But still, it’s beneficial because signals will directly reach your system without any distortion. They will have a clear path to follow. It will reduce latency.

v. Stay Close to the Router

Signals coming from a router should not be interrupted, but sometimes, because of some objects, furniture, and walls, it interrupts and slows data transmission.

Place your system in such a place where you can conveniently use it. If your router is still not working, restart it after a while to make it better for usage. It will also lessen latency.

Other Factors that Measure Network Performance

The performance of a network can not only be measured by latency; you can also measure it with the help of Bandwidth, Jitter, Throughput, and Packet Loss:

  • Bandwidth

Bandwidth measures the data size that can go through a network at a certain time. Data is measured in units per second. A bandwidth network with1 gigabit per second will perform much better than a network with 10 gigabits per second. Let’s take an example of a water pipe and consider the width of the pipe as Bandwidth and latency as the speed of water flows. Less bandwidth can increase latency.

  • Jitter

It is the difference in the time delay between the data transmission through a network connection. Jitter is experienced in letting know when a network packet will reach in a different sequence than the expectations of the user.

  • Throughput

It indicates the average size of data that can be transmitted through the network at a certain period. It also highlights the data packets that reach successfully to its clients and those that fail to reach the destination.

  • Packet Loss

It measures those data packets that never arrive at their destination. It occurs because of hardware issues, software bugs, and network congestion. These factors become a reason for the dropping of data packets during transmission. Latency helps to measure the delay in the arrival of packets; in contrast, packet loss gives us information about those packets that never arrived at their destination.

Final Words - What is Latency?

In today’s fastest technological world, nobody likes latency during working or online video streaming. Latency slows down the whole process of data transmission and makes your work slower. We must use all ways to reduce it as much as possible. There are several ways through which you can measure it. It can put your job at risk if you do not transfer data at the right time and right place. And can also be disadvantageous for businesses by slowing down business activities. Latency must be removed from your system and network to ensure smooth transmission of data and other information.

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Zayne is an SEO expert and Content Manager at, harnessing three years of expertise in the digital realm. Renowned for his strategic prowess, he navigates the complexities of search engine optimization with finesse, driving's online visibility to new heights. He leads's SEO endeavors, meticulously conducting keyword research and in-depth competition analysis to inform strategic decision-making.

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