Packet Loss vs. Ping: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: April 8, 2023By
Person streaming on laptop

If you’re new to computers or gaming on computers, the terms ping and packet loss can seem interchangeable.

While the reasons why both happen might be similar, they both are two different things and are individually frustrating on their own.

In this article, we will explore what these terms refer to, what causes them, and what you can do to minimize them to have a more reliable internet connection, whether you are gaming or streaming content on the web.

What Is Ping?

Ping, also known as latency, is a computer-related term for how long it takes for the server’s response to reach your computer or your average real-time connection speed, and it is measured in milliseconds (ms).

Gamers use this terminology mainly because a higher or lower ping can make a difference in whether you win or lose.

A high ping is the worst enemy of every gamer. Imagine you’re playing an online shooting game, and you are about to make a crucial match-winning headshot, and your little sister tugs on your shirt at that moment making you miss that shot.

Virtually this is what a ping spike can look like, and a ping spike at the wrong moment can be more than just a little infuriating.

Since online games rely on constant feedback from the game’s server, the ping must be as low as possible.

A ping of 50ms or below is generally accepted as excellent, with the experience being virtually seamless. A ping above 150ms will start to be noticeable in the form of lag.

What Is Packet Loss?

Packet loss is when small packets of data fail to reach their intended destination, resulting in incomplete information.

This loss of information can be noticeable in the form of slower service or connectivity issues and is incredibly irritating when it’s enormous, and your task includes video streaming or online gaming that relies on constant feedback and stable internet connectivity.

Some gamers argue that a high packet loss is far worse than a higher ping because it reduces the elements in your game that you would expect to be there.

Unlike ping, which can be seen as your computer network response time to the server, packet loss is a loss of information, and some of that information can be very critical in an online game.

Packet loss can be prevalent due to multiple reasons and disruptions in network connectivity, such as servers being overloaded, software bugs, and network congestion, to name a few.

What Can Cause High Ping and High Packet Loss, and What Can You Do About It?

Person using laptop and holding cup of coffee

All gamers know how frustrating high ping and high packet loss can be in their moments of rage quitting because of it. Luckily there are some measures you can take to minimize the chances of that happening, such as:

Closing Background Apps

When many apps and websites are running in the background while you are gaming, your internet connection is being consumed by all of them simultaneously, which can cause a lag in your gaming experience.

Shutting down the apps running in the background and minimizing the extra data consumed by your computer will help focus your internet connection toward your game and provide a much more immersive and smooth experience.

Connecting Fewer Devices to Your Wi-Fi

When your Wi-Fi is connected to multiple devices at once, it can overburden the connection as it has to provide a stable connection to all of those devices, resulting in a compromised internet connection that isn’t nearly as fast.

Just minimizing the number of devices connected to your Wi-Fi router can go a long way in providing a more stable and faster internet connection while gaming.

Upgrading Your Router

An old router that has been used a lot can weaken the internet signal that it is capable of providing to the devices connected to it.

Upgrading to a newer router with more giant antennas can drastically improve stability and a stronger internet connection while also increasing the radius of signals so you can get a stronger signal despite sitting far away from the router, resulting in minimal ping and packet loss.

Changing Your Internet Package

Upgrading your internet plan to one that provides higher download and upload speeds is crucial for anyone looking to avoid higher ping and packet loss.

The higher rates not only minimize ping and packet loss but also provide you with more stability across more devices, as your router can cater to many connections while maintaining high speeds and stable connectivity.

Using a LAN Cable

No amount of Wi-Fi upgrades will match the sheer power of using a LAN cable while gaming or streaming.

This is because it relies on a wire that is directly connected to your computer or console, which completely removes the possibility of your connection being disrupted by other devices, your connection disrupted by something obstructing the signal from your router, and the travel time of an internet connection from your Wi-Fi router to your device.

Instead, it entirely focuses the internet signal on the device it is connected to and provides a significantly more stable and reliable connection than Wi-Fi.


Ping is the latency between your computer network and the server you are connected to and can be thought of as the travel time between the two for your seamless streaming or gaming experience.

On the other hand, packet loss is the loss of data between the communication of your computer network and the server you are connected to, which can give you an incomplete experience and get in the way of immersive media consumption.