Latency is the term used to describe the time taken between the user’s action and response time. In terms of data transport, it is defined as how fast a system or server can process data in a channel. Nobody loves waiting for an endless amount of time for their item to appear in their shopping cart. Still, sometimes you will encounter several minutes of wait time before you can proceed to checkout, and this can be blamed on whether the website uses a low latency server or not.
High network latency can reduce the overall user experience. It can make your gaming experience slow, take several minutes for your favorite show to buffer, or take ages for your cart to update during a sale.
What Causes Latency?
Several factors play a role in internet latency. The fundamental reasoning is the physical distance between your device and the servers responding time. To tackle this issue remember, the higher the bandwidth, the lower the latency. Often people confuse the server capacity with speed. A larger server capacity does not by default mean the serve speed will also be fast. It’s like saying a bus that can carry 100 passengers is faster than a car carrying 4.
Some equipment can help you with server latency as they can carry data faster than others but remember the speed of transmission can never cross the speed of light in a vacuum. One such piece of equipment is the optic fiber cables. They have a refractive index of 1.47, which is not up to the mark. Hence you will encounter a latency of at least 5 seconds even with optic fiber.
A server can tackle latency with strategic loading. Suppose your website is meant for online shopping. In that case, a user can interact faster with the website by navigating the top bar, which contains various categories even before the rest of the website is ready to use. Developers can also reduce server latency by using smaller-sized files; an image that can be compressed and used should be preferred over a high quality resolution when advertising diapers.
Sometimes latency is caused on the user’s end and can be overcome by the user through purchasing higher bandwidth; however, it will not always guarantee low latency.
Types of Latency
Latency, otherwise known as delay in layman terms, comes in various shapes. The most commonly discussed are:
- Internet latency: This type of latency depends on the distance. The longer the data has to travel to and from the source, the slower the overall experience.
- Interrupted latency: this is the time taken by the operating system to respond to a signal and take appropriate actions against the command.
- Audio latency: as the name suggests, this type of latency can be observed during web conferences where you might hear the person on the other end of the screen a few seconds after their lips begin to move in the video.
- Fiber optic latency: if your ISP uses a fiber optic cable to supply you with your internet connection, then a delay in loading can be expected if the optic cable is long since the signals travel through the wire refraction. Additionally, any defect in the line, such as a bend, can further increase latency.