Packet loss can cause a wide range of issues. If you are experiencing constant disconnects, corrupt file transfers, and lag in various applications and games, you may be having packet loss. You can learn how to test packet loss using a simple method. The easiest way is to use a packet loss test but there is a manual way that can be just as useful.
What is Packet Loss?
Before we learn how to test for packet loss, it is important to understand what it is and how it works.
Packet loss is almost self-explanatory. Some of the data packets that you send or receive get lost due to various reasons. It may be an issue with your computer, the destination server or it can be a problem somewhere in the middle. The problems between your home router and the destination server may be caused by some sort of fault within the network of your ISP or other ISPs through which your packets pass.
These packets of data contain tiny fragments of information. They can be parts of a file, data sent by an application, or by a game. It works both ways and when packets are lost, disconnects can occur or data can be corrupted. It can also lead to ping spikes as lost packets are sometimes resent depending on what application is using your internet.
Testing for Packet Loss
Both computers running a Windows operating system and macOS have built-in tools that can be used to test for packet loss.
For Microsoft Windows, you need to do the following:
- Click on the Start button at the bottom left of the screen and type CMD.
- Open the application with the black icon at the top of the search results called “Command Prompt”.
- A new black window will appear. Type in that window “ping 126.96.36.199 -t” and hit enter.
- Let the ping test run for at least 5 minutes.
- Press and hold the CTRL key and press C to stop the test.
For macOS, do the following:
- Click on Spotlight and type “Network Utility”
- You will see two matching search results. Click on the one with a yellow icon in a black circle.
- The Network Utility tool will open. Click on the “Ping” tab.
- You will see a text box under “Enter the network address to ping. Type “188.8.131.52” and click on Send Only. Type 100 to send 100 pings.
Now that you know how to test for packet loss, it is important to learn how to read the data.
On both macOS and Windows, you will get some ping statistics at the end of the test. In both cases, you will see a line that states the number of packets sent, received, and how many were lost. While the wording may not be identical, the information is always showed in that particular order. You will need to look at the number of lost packets. If you have a packet loss of more than 5%, you will have severe problems playing games, browsing the web, streaming, or using any kind of online service.
If you have a ping of 1% or less, that is considered acceptable. You can use your internet normally with a 1% packet loss but ideally, you should have no packet loss or it should be less than 0.1% which is 1 in 1000.
The Easy Way to Test for Packet Loss
If you want to learn how to test for packet loss but do not want to be bothered with the above-described steps, you can just take an online packet loss test. These tests have the great advantage of doing everything for you. All you have to do is click on what test you want to do and hit start. They work the same no matter on what device you want to test your packet loss. You can use them on mobile devices, Microsoft Windows or macOS.
One thing to take note of is that these tests may not always work depending on your browser settings. If it does not work with one browser, you should try the test using a different browser. This is the easiest way to learn how to test for packet loss without being a computer expert.