How To Have Lag-Free Online Gaming

Lag: There is nothing more frustrating than experiencing lag – here is some advice on how to avoid lagging so that you and get on with the gaming.

Technology has made it possible to game with anyone, anytime. However, sometimes this connectivity can be a double-edged sword. When you’re playing an online multiplayer game and the connection is slow or lagging, it is frustrating for everyone involved. There are some fast and not so quick fixes.

There’s nothing like online gaming, so let’s dig deep and get the problem sorted.



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Use wired internet connections

Wi-Fi connections can be as much as ten times slower than wired ones, so even having a cable connection isn’t enough to guarantee a strong signal.

It would help if you had your console or computer close to the internet connection. If that’s not possible, then try using some extension cord if you have one, and make sure it is longer than 5 meters (16 ft) to be sure.

Make sure your console or computer is plugged into the correct socket for your internet connection type (DSL/cable), and don’t move it around when you’re fighting games. At high speeds, collisions with furniture can interrupt the signal, causing lag spikes in online gaming.

A damaged or faulty network adapter is much more likely to cause lag than a slow broadband connection; make sure all cables are secure and clean before blaming your ISP. If possible, plugin another network adaptor (a spare).

When using wireless connections, place any routers or repeaters between yourself and the console or computer, not behind them since they need to ‘see’ each other to communicate well enough for good online gaming.

Update the firmware

If feasible, try updating the firmware on your router or upgrading to the most recent version.
Consider purchasing a powerline network adaptor, which plugs into any power outlet and allows you to connect to the internet without having to move your console or computer to improve coverage.



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Use an Ethernet Cable

While wired connections are best, it’s not always possible, so rather than using Wi-Fi, try using an Ethernet cable instead of wireless where you can.

If you already use wireless, make sure you’re using the most robust encryption possible – Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is no longer enough as it has been cracked for years now, but WPA2 should still be secure unless someone has hacked it.

Unfortunately, using WEP isn’t secure either, as hackers can crack it quickly enough.

Change frequency frequently

Learn about your router and how to change the frequencies on which it transmits data, so it doesn’t interfere with other routers or wireless telephones if possible – many modern ones will do this automatically, but you have to check this first.

Try changing the frequency on your Wi-Fi from 2.4GHz to 5GHz as this reduces interference from microwaves, cordless phones, and Bluetooth devices that use a similar frequency to Wi-Fi.

Choose the right cable

Don’t forget that HDMI cables aren’t meant for the internet – they won’t provide a stable connection – instead, use a DVI cable with an adaptor for your console, depending on what is (or isn’t) available.

Try using both wired and wireless connections. For example, if you have an Xbox Series X, plug it into the router with a network cable, so it picks up fast speeds, but use Wi-Fi for any other consoles or computers so they can all connect simultaneously.

Let’s say your console is too far from your router. In that situation, a powerline network adapter – which uses your home’s existing electrical wiring to give internet connectivity – would be worth the investment. They are inexpensive and straightforward to put up.



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Do and don’t play games

Don’t play online games when downloading files or streaming media unless you need to, because that will interfere with your connection stability making lag much more like. Wait until everything has finished before playing.

Here is some more advice:

Turn off background programs and update

Close applications you aren’t using while playing games, if possible, to make sure they don’t take up CPU power unnecessarily.

Ensure your anti-virus isn’t running scans in the background, which will slow down everything if it is; specific versions of AVG interfere with Warcraft III, for example, so try uninstalling that before playing that game online.

Your graphics card shouldn’t cause lag, but if you are using integrated graphics, upgrading to a dedicated card might solve some minor fps issues and improve lag problems.

If you are still experiencing lag after that, it could be due to too many devices being connected to your network. Check your router’s specifications to ensure it can handle the amount of traffic you’re sending it.

Run anti-virus software

Run an anti-virus program, keep it updated, and run a firewall if you have one because if you don’t set it up correctly, both may slow the network down.

If you don’t use either, that may be why there are lag spikes in your gaming experience. Viruses and spyware can hide behind programs and monitor what you do online and take up part of your capacity.

If you want to run a firewall and the anti-virus program and aren’t sure which one is best for you, try out some free ones like Comodo Firewall or TinyWall before buying one, if money is an issue. It doesn’t matter whether it is a software firewall or a hardware-based one (inbuilt router) – both work the same way in the end.

Generally speaking, we would advise against using two anti-virus programs at the same time, use one. This is simply because they are likely to conflict with each other, meaning you will have to spend your valuable time trying to figure out which one is responsible for the problem you’re having.

Talk to other gamers

Talk to other gamers about lag issues because their hardware may be better than yours so that you can learn from them, or they might have experienced the same problems as you and have found a solution. Even if you have the same hardware, they might have better connection software or a fix that can help you.

Always ‘test’ your ISP before blaming them for any lag issues. If it is just you who experiences lag spikes on an online game, consider many things.

If all else fails, try playing single-player games for a while because online gaming is being streamed to thousands of players simultaneously, which is more resource-intensive. Playing offline for an hour or two may give your router time to update.

Play older games

Play older games rather than new ones online because they’re not as demanding, plus there are usually more players available for them.

Download a speed test

Many games have a speed test feature, so use it if your game is lagging. Your internet provider may be at fault, not the network or any other hardware that you have.

Remember to disconnect from all devices before running a speed test. If you’ve done all this and you’re still lagging, why not read a book instead?

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