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Network latency is a measure of how fast a network is running. The term refers to the time elapsed between the sending of a message to a router and the return of that message (even if the process only takes milliseconds, slowdowns can be very apparent over multi-user networks). Latency problems can signal network-wide slowdowns, and must be treated seriously, as latency issues cause not only slow service but data losses as well. At the user level, latency issues may come from software malfunctions; at the network level, such slowdowns may be a result of network overextension or bottlenecking, or DoS or DDoS activity.
At the user level, latency issues may be caused by PC software. Some software designed for networking actually slows down user traffic; one should be certain to use only necessary networking tools and applications. Traffic can also be slowed by tray icons and spyware that take up network time without any input from the user (and most certainly without his or her consent). Unnecessary icons should be disabled, and spyware checks run frequently.
On the network level, the most important latency troubleshooting step is to identify the problem. Traceroute is one of the most common tasks one should perform when latency becomes an issue. Running a traceroute analyzes the activity of packet transfer along a network, and such a protocol can help administrators to find the source of the slowdown. Traffic can then be re-routed while the problem area is reconfigured.
Network Latency Due to DoS/DDoS
DoS/DDoS attacks can affect the speed of an entire network and cause major network latency problems. There is no single way to deal with DoS/DDoS attacks. Administrators are encouraged to accumulate as much server strength and bandwidth as possible (and financially feasible), and to closely monitor network activity to catch and fend off attacks as efficiently as possible.
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