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What Is Packet Loss? – How to Fix It?

Release Date: 2021-11-29

1. Definition

There is packet loss or latency when at least one transmitted data packet fails to reach the destination. It can lower the performance for digital communications. A packet is a small data unit that a network protocol routes from an origin to a destination. Network packets contain some information, including the source address, target address, protocols or ID numbers. Packet transfer applies in all Internet activities.

When packets cannot arrive at the destination, end users may face disruptions, including low service efficiency and loss of network connectivity. Typical applications affected by real-time packet processing are audio-based programs and video calling. There is packet loss because of errors in data transmission or network congestion.

2. Causes

There are many causes of packet loss: cyberattacks; excessive system noise; manmade or natural interference; network congestion; outdated network hardware; overburdened network nodes; poor signal at the destination; security breaches; software corruption, etc.

3. Effects

Packet loss reduces network performance. Communication quality drops in real-time applications, i.e. voice over IP (VoIP). There may be tremble and gaps in received speech. There is reduced throughput because of network congestion. Communication becomes insecure as packet loss can cause cyberattacks, such as VoIP applications. Encrypted data is lost as cybercriminals hack systems to avoid security measures and steal encrypted data. Packet loss causes incomplete data as it can damage received data, images, speech, received signals, etc.

4. How to detect, fix and prevent packet loss?

If a user wants to detect packet loss, a diagnostic tool can be used, such as a ping (Packet Internet or Inter-Network Groper) test. The ping network utility program is established in each operating system (OS). The ping sends special packets to a given destination and checks if the end node responds correctly. Packet loss can be measured by sending many pings to the destination and finding failed responses.

There are some solutions to packet loss. First, increase bandwidth in time of network congestion, so that more requests can be handled. Second, conduct a deep packet inspection (DPI). DPI is a kind of packet filtering that manages packets with certain data or code payloads. It can increase network traffic by tagging high-priority packets. Third, update hardware and software. Outdated hardware and software can decrease network traffic and cause packet loss. Identify bandwidth-consuming software. Fourth, use wired connections. Because of stability, wired networks have fewer data packets lost in transmission. Fifth, reduce opposing obstacles. Interfering signals from Bluetooth devices can cause static.

Packet loss can be avoided by checking the network’s performance. Monitoring tools, including sensors, can be used to separate and fix packet loss. Companies should scan devices regularly to handle network loads at capacity.

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