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Jitter & Ping Network Tests: How to improve network performance

As a network engineer, you’ve been there: your meticulously tuned network suddenly hiccups. Latency spikes, applications lag, and your inbox floods with user complaints. In mere moments, your day shifts from routine maintenance to full-scale firefighting. Sound familiar?

In today’s hyper-connected world, network performance isn’t just a technical metric—it’s the backbone of business operations. Whether you’re managing a compact office LAN or orchestrating a vast enterprise infrastructure, the quality of your network can make the difference between seamless operations and costly downtime.

But how do you stay ahead of these issues? How do you quantify the invisible factors that can make or break your network’s performance? This is where both jitter and ping tests come into play—the unsung heroes of network diagnostics.

We know these terms aren’t just buzzwords. They’re critical tools in our arsenal, providing actionable insights into network health and efficiency. But are you leveraging them to their full potential? Let’s dive deep into the world of jitter and ping, exploring how these powerful metrics can transform your approach to network optimization and troubleshooting.

Why are jitter and ping tests so important?

Simply put, they provide invaluable insights into the health and efficiency of your network. Ping tests measure response time, giving you a clear picture of how quickly data travels across your network. Jitter tests, on the other hand, reveal the consistency of that data flow. Together, these metrics paint a comprehensive picture of network performance, helping you identify and resolve issues before they impact your users.

Understanding jitter and ping

To effectively manage network performance, it’s crucial to understand the key players: jitter and ping. These metrics, while related, serve different purposes in diagnosing network health.

Ping, our first contender, is like the speedometer of your network. Think of ping as the digital equivalent of shouting “Marco” and waiting for the “Polo” response. It measures the round-trip time for a small data packet sent from your device to a server and back. A low ping time indicates a responsive network, while a high ping time can signal potential issues.

Jitter, on the other hand, is all about consistency. If ping measures the speed of the journey, jitter measures the smoothness of the ride. It’s the variation in the delay of received packets. In a perfect world, packets would arrive at a steady rate. But in reality, network congestion and other factors (like lack of packet prioritization) can cause packets to arrive at irregular intervals, leading to high jitter.

While both metrics are crucial, they differ in several key aspects:

  • Ping focuses on speed, while jitter focuses on consistency.
  • Ping is a single measurement, while jitter looks at variations over time.
  • High ping affects overall responsiveness, while high jitter primarily impacts real-time applications like VoIP and video conferencing.

The importance of jitter and ping testing cannot be overstated. These metrics are essential for:

  1. Ensuring quality of service for real-time applications.
  2. Identifying network bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
  3. Troubleshooting connectivity issues.
  4. Optimizing network configuration.

Impact on network performance and how to perform tests

High jitter and ping times can wreak havoc on your network performance. A high ping time can lead to laggy connections and slow response times, frustrating users and hampering productivity. High jitter, particularly above 30ms, can cause audio and video quality issues in real-time communications, leading to choppy calls and pixelated video.

When it comes to performing jitter and ping tests, NetAlly offers a range of solutions:

  • Ping tests: Available on all NetAlly testers, ping tests are straightforward to run. They provide immediate feedback on network responsiveness.
  • Jitter tests: Part of the Performance test suite on advanced devices like the LinkRunner 10G and EtherScope, jitter tests offer deeper insights into network performance consistency.

Step-by-step guide and tools

Conducting jitter and ping tests with NetAlly testers is straightforward. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Connect your NetAlly tester to the network segment you want to test.
  2. For ping tests, use the built-in Ping/TCP app to select a target (e.g., a server or gateway). Here’s a video that you can follow along with.
  3. For jitter tests, use the Performance test app on compatible devices and setup an endpoint. Here’s a video that you can follow along with.
  4. Run the tests and analyze the results.

To make the most of these tests, NetAlly offers multiple options, two of them are:

  • EtherScope nXG: An advanced multi-gig network tester with full-featured testing capabilities, including detailed jitter analysis.
  • LinkRunner 4000: A versatile tester perfect for quick ping tests, network discovery, and basic performance analysis.

Both testers offer user-friendly interfaces and powerful diagnostic capabilities, making them indispensable tools for network engineers.

Once you’ve run your tests, interpreting the results is key:

  • Ping: Look for consistent, low round-trip times. Anything under 50 ms is generally good for most applications.
  • Jitter: Aim for jitter under 30 ms for optimal performance, especially for VoIP and video conferencing.

Common metrics and troubleshooting

When monitoring network performance, keep an eye on these critical metrics: throughput (speed), packet loss, latency (ping), and jitter. Each of these provides unique insights into your network’s health.

If you encounter issues, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • For high ping: Check for network congestion, long routes, or hardware issues.
  • For high jitter: Investigate QoS settings, network buffer configurations, and potential interference.

To proactively improve your network performance, consider these strategies:

  1. Optimize QoS settings to prioritize time-sensitive traffic.
  2. Upgrade network hardware if it’s outdated or underpowered.
  3. Implement traffic shaping to manage bandwidth effectively.
  4. Use content delivery networks (CDNs) to reduce latency for geographically dispersed users.

Best practices and real-world applications

To maximize the benefits of jitter and ping testing, consider implementing these best practices in your network management routine:

  • Regularly perform jitter and ping tests to proactively identify issues.
  • Document baseline performance to easily spot deviations.
  • Correlate jitter and ping data with other network metrics for comprehensive analysis.
  • Use NetAlly’s cloud-based reporting tools for easy data sharing and collaboration.

The impact of effective jitter and ping testing extends across various industries and applications. Here are some real-world scenarios where optimized network performance is crucial:

  • VoIP and Video Conferencing Optimization
  • Online Gaming Performance Enhancement
  • Financial Trading Platform Responsiveness
  • Healthcare Systems Reliability

Conclusion

In the fast-paced world of network management, jitter and ping testing are not just diagnostic tools – they’re your early warning system for potential network issues. By regularly monitoring these metrics and understanding their implications, you can ensure your network operates at peak performance, supporting the critical applications that drive your business forward.

Key take-aways

As we wrap up, let’s revisit the key points to remember:

  1. Jitter and ping are critical metrics for assessing network performance.
  2. Regular testing helps prevent issues before they impact users.
  3. NetAlly’s tools provide comprehensive, user-friendly solutions for network testing.
  4. Optimizing for low jitter and ping can significantly improve user experience, especially for real-time applications.

By incorporating these insights into your network management strategy, you can significantly enhance your network’s performance and reliability.

Empower your network: Start testing today

We encourage all network professionals to implement regular jitter and ping testing as part of their network maintenance routine. With the right tools and knowledge, you can keep your network running smoothly, ensuring happy users and a robust, reliable infrastructure.

Ready to take your network performance to the next level? Explore NetAlly’s range of network testing solutions and start optimizing your network!


Author Bio –
Product Manager – Wireless

Julio Petrovitch is a product manager at NetAlly, plus a certified CWNA/CWAP/CWDP/CWSP. He’s worked with network design, testing and validation for more than 15 years. Throughout he’s career he has had the opportunity to work with multiple networking technologies, including POTS, DSL, Copper/Fiber Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and BLE.

AirCheck™ G3 Pro

WiFi 6 Wireless Tester

The AirCheck G3 Pro is a cost-effective hardware-enabled wireless analysis and site survey solution for WiFi 6/6E and Bluetooth/BLE networks.

EtherScope® nXG

Ethernet Network Tester & WiFi Diagnostics Tool

EtherScope nXG is a powerful network tester & WiFi 6 diagnostics tool that helps engineers and technicians to quickly deploy, maintain, monitor, analyze and secure WiFi, Bluetooth/BLE and Ethernet access networks.

LinkRunner® AT 4000

Smart Network & Cable Tester

The LinkRunner AT 4000 is a cutting-edge network cable tester for modern networking tasks and infrastructural diagnostics.

LinkSprinter®

Pocket Network Tester

A quick, 10-second basic network connectivity test for copper Ethernet connections. This network Ethernet tester is ideal for frontline or helpdesk employees.