Have you ever been in the situation where you’re left wondering whether your Internet connection is messing with the quality of your VoIP calls or your online video game experience? You can sit there and test your bandwidth all you want, but the fact is that the speed of your Internet connection might not be the culprit.
The creators of SpeedTest.net, my favorite bandwidth testing site, have also created a new PingTest.net site. Its goal is to test aspects that are important to services like Vonage and Xbox Live, which need almost zero packet loss for you not to experience any stuttering, buffering, lag, and/or delays.
When you run a test on the site you’ll get three different types of information: packet loss, ping response, and jitter…
- Packet Loss – Much as it sounds, if you have anything less than complete success in transmitting and receiving “packets” of data then you are experiencing this problem with your Internet connection. It can mean much slower download and upload speeds, poor quality VoIP audio, pauses with streaming media and what seems like time warping in games — your connection may even come to a total standstill! Packet loss is a metric where anything greater than 0% should cause concern.
- Ping – This measurement tells how long it takes a “packet” of data to travel from your computer to a server on the Internet and back. Whenever you experience delayed responses in Internet applications – this would be due to a higher than desired ping. Similar to packet loss, lower is better when it comes to ping. A result below 100 ms should be expected from any decent broadband connection.
- Jitter – Jitter is merely the variance in measuring successive ping tests. Zero jitter means the results were exactly the same every time, and anything above zero is the amount by which they varied. Like the other quality measurements, a lower jitter value is better. And while some jitter should be expected over the Internet, having it be a small fraction of the ping result is ideal.
The next time you’re having performance problems with Xbox Live, Vonage, Skype, or any other service hopefully PingTest.net will be there to help pinpoint whether it’s a bandwidth problem, slow response times, or packet loss.