Bufferbloat, and what do to about it

What is bufferbloat?

Bufferbloat is a cause of high latency in packet-switched networks caused by excess buffering of packets. Bufferbloat can also cause packet delay variation (also known as jitter), as well as reduce the overall network throughput. When a router or switch is configured to use excessively large buffers, even very high-speed networks can become practically unusable for many interactive applications like voice over IP (VoIP), online gaming, and even ordinary web surfing.

Some communications equipment manufacturers designed unnecessarily large buffers into some of their network products. In such equipment, bufferbloat occurs when a network link becomes congested, causing packets to become queued for long periods in these oversized buffers. In a first-in first-out queuing system, overly large buffers result in longer queues and higher latency, and do not improve network throughput. 

How to test for bufferbloat

The quickest and easiest way to test for bufferbloat is to run a continuous ping and simultaneously. Here are a couple steps to follow

  1. In Windows, click Start and go to Run (Or hold Windows Key + press ‘R‘)
  2. Type ‘cmd‘, press Enter
  3. In command prompt type ping www.yahoo.com -t then press Enter

Your continuous ping will being.

Next step, run a speed test. Here are a couple free sites you can use: speedtest.net, speedof.me fast.com

As your are running the speed tests, watch your ping times and check for spikes with time. If you see a large spike (+200ms), your router is bloated.

Once you complete your test you can either close the command window that’s pinging or hold CTRL + C to stop it.

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