What a lag: five ways you can improve the speed and reliability of your internet connection

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Picture the scene: you’re playing your favourite first-person shooter online, and you and your chums are just about to capture your opponents’ flag or storm their compound.

And then it happens: your screen freezes and the action comes to an immediate halt. But you know that your teammates are fighting on without you because their connection hasn’t dropped or ‘lagged’ in the heat of battle. It’s the most frustrating of feelings for an online gamer.

Maybe you’re an online casino player, and after taking advantage of genuine free spins promotions, you’ve spun the reels of the slot machine or placed your bets at the roulette table.

And then…nothing. Your internet lags and you don’t know if you are a winner or not.

Fortunately, there are some techniques you can deploy to try and eliminate lag in your gaming, or at the very least minimise the number of times it happens. Here are five options to try the next time your internet lags.

Step 1 – Check your speed

If you want to game in any significant capacity, you need your internet connection to be running at a decent pace for streaming to be seamless.

And that, typically, means at least 10Mbps if you want to play complex games – anything less than that will almost certainly lead to lagging. Simply type ‘internet speed test’ into Google on a connected device and you will find lots of simple options to try.

If your speed tests continually produce results of lower than 10Mbps, the time may come for you to upgrade your internet package.

Step 2 – Consider your bandwidth

Your internet speed is just one of the indicators of potential lagging and your bandwidth is another.

Do you live in a home with lots of family members, or maybe in a student property with four or more of you occupying bandwidth? The issue is that the more people who are using the internet at any one time, the more strained your bandwidth will be.

If you’re gaming in one room and somebody is streaming Netflix in another while someone else is downloading an album, unfortunately, you might be fighting a losing battle.

You will find your internet connection to be more reliable if you are the only person using up bandwidth, so try and time your gaming when everybody else is out or has gone to bed. And remember to close Netflix, YouTube and any other background programmes and devices that use up precious bandwidth as well.

Step 3 – Lower your latency

Lag can also be attributed to high latency, which is the amount of time it takes for information to be relayed to the source, e.g. when you click your button to get your character to shoot or when you hit ‘spin’ on a casino game.

The online gaming utopia is fast internet with low latency, and like your web connection you can also test your latency – there are many free tools you can find via Google that will let you do this. For reference, a ping rate of below 100ms will give you a stable connection, and anything below 30ms is considered very good indeed.

If you have high latency, try the last two steps in this guide.

Step 4 – Improve your connectivity

Not everyone is aware of the fact that connecting your gaming device to the router using an ethernet cable, rather than competing for Wi-Fi space, can instantly improve your experience and minimise lag and latency.

Assuming your router isn’t the main problem, you should see your gaming speeds increase exponentially.

Additionally, you could position your modem as close to your phone line as possible, i.e. where your physical internet connection enters your home. You should also use microfilters to minimise ‘noise’ on the line and position other electronic devices further away from your modem.

Step 5 – Replace your router

Sometimes, the root of the problem is close at hand.

When you join a new internet provider, they often send standardised ‘off the shelf’ routers for you to use, and occasionally these aren’t always the best option.

Try to move physically closer to the router to see if that helps, and refreshing your router by hitting the restart button on the box can also occasionally improve matters. Turning it off and then on again isn’t as comedic as people would have you think.

There are routers out there designed specifically for gamers, and they can be a cost-effective purchase when you are planning in putting in the hours on your favourite titles.

And if all else fails, maybe now is the time to upgrade your internet package. You’ll get faster speeds and lower lag, and while your monthly bill will be higher, it’s up to you to decide whether this is a cost you are willing to pay for a seamless gaming experience.

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