Ping spikes or lag spikes are both an annoying technical issue and difficult to diagnose and repair, since there are so many possible causes.
Ping and lag spikes can be caused by your PC’s internet card constantly searching for new connections, background programs that limit bandwidth, faulty hardware, poor ISP setup, and more. Common solutions include fixing your router settings, metering your connection, or using powerline adapters.
Stop the PC from searching other networks & updating signal quality
If you are 1) using a PC 2) are connected to the Internet through wireless or Wi-Fi and 3) have ping spikes at fixed intervals such as 10, 30, or 60 seconds, then the ping spikes might be caused by your PC constantly scanning for nearby Wi-Fi networks or updating signal quality.
This automatic scanning delays the sending and receiving of packets (causing ping spikes), so you have to disable it.
To avoid ping spikes caused by autoconfiguring Wi-Fi, follow these steps:
- In the Windows search bar, type cmd.
- Right click “Command Prompt” and click “Run as Administrator”.
- Type: netsh wlan show settings
- Press Enter.
- Search for a text field that says: Auto configuration logic is enabled on interface “Wireless Network Connection”
- If you can see that line, type in: netsh wlan set autoconfig enabled=no interface=”Wireless Network Connection”
- It should respond with: Auto configuration has been disabled on interface “Wireless Network Connection”.
Note 1: Instead of “Wireless Network Connection” you might get “Wi-Fi”, or even a personalized interface name.
In that case, simply replace “Wireless Network Connection” with “Wi-Fi” or whatever instruction you can see in the Command Prompt.
Note 2: If you aren’t getting Auto configuration has been disabled on interface “Wireless Network Connection” as a prompt at step 7, then you probably mistyped your interface=” part.
To find the correct interface name, type in cmd “ipconfig”. It will list multiple adapters. You’ll have to look for the wireless one that has IP addresses, a gateway, etc. assigned.
It will be listed as Wireless LAN adapter [SOMETHING]. In the image below, it is Wi-Fi 2.
The part that is listed as [SOMETHING] will be your WLAN interface name, so the command at step 6 should look like this: netsh wlan set autoconfig enabled=no interface=”[SOMETHING]”
Note 3: The steps above will stop your wireless card from searching for nearby networks and updating your signal quality, which is what is causing the spikes.
However, you will need to turn this setting back on if you disconnect or need to be able to find nearby networks again.
To do so, copy paste this instruction into the Command Prompt: netsh wlan set autoconfig enabled=yes interface=”Wireless Network Connection”
A very common issue is that your Wi-Fi
Close background processes on your PC
Even if you have a fast internet connection, other programs and apps can suffer from connection issues if an application uses up too much bandwidth for itself.
For example, an application might run in the background that uses a lot of data, limiting the bandwidth you have available for your other activities.
This happens most frequently with torrenting programs, but it can happen to other apps as well.
Here’s what you can do to find and close programs that use too much bandwidth:
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
- Click the column named Network twice to order processes according to their network usage.
- Right-click on the process that uses the most network bandwidth, which you don’t need right now, and select End Task.
- Repeat this for every process that you feel is using more bandwidth than it should be.
Set your Internet connection as a metered connection
If you closed all bandwidth intensive apps as shown above but are still getting ping spikes, then a more comprehensive solution is to set your Internet to a metered connection.
The metered connection setting pauses most uploads and downloads your operating system or apps are allowed to do and also prevents many background operations from working.
With a metered connection set to on, only programs in active use are allowed unlimited Internet bandwidth. This includes video games, Internet browsers while you’re actively using them, etc.
The best part is that this setting can be turned on or off at any time with no consequences.
Here’s how you can use it on a Windows device:
- Wi-Fi: In Settings, select Network & internet > Wi-Fi > the Wi-Fi network you’re connected to, then turn on Metered connection.
- Ethernet: In Settings, select Network & internet > Ethernet > the network you’re connected to, then turn on Metered connection.
Is someone else using the available Internet bandwidth?
Even if you aren’t using up too much bandwidth, it’s possible someone else in your household is using up a lot of the available bandwidth.
Try to find patterns: do the ping spikes happen only when someone is at home? Is a family member leaving a device active to download stuff? Is someone streaming 4K, high bitrate videos on YouTube, Plex, or Netflix?
All of these can potentially cause ping spikes, especially if your Internet connection doesn’t have a particularly large bandwidth.
Note that it’s possible to have high-speed Internet, but with low bandwidth.
Internet speed is measured by the total amount of data you can download or upload in one second. Bandwidth is measured by the total amount of data you’re allowed to download or upload in one second.
If you believe this is the cause, then one option is to use your router’s Quality of Speed function to limit the bandwidth other users or devices can consume.
This isn’t very difficult to do, but the steps are unique to every type of router, so be sure to check the user manual.
In most cases, however, you’ll need to log into your router’s administrative page, locate the QoS tab, and set the bandwidth limits for your devices.
Do a ping test on your router
A common reason for ping spikes is the router. For example, it may be too far away from your device, its hardware is getting faulty, or it simply isn’t powerful enough to cope with how many devices are connected.
Perform the following test to determine if your router is to blame for the ping spikes:
- In the Windows search bar, type cmd. Right click and press “Run as Administrator”.
- In the command prompt, type ipconfig and press Enter.
- Look at the IP address next to Default Gateway. That is the IP address of your router.
- Type ping [IP address] -n 10 (in our case, ping 192.168.0.1 -n 10) The “-n 10” is how many packets you want to send to the router to test its speed. If you want to test more packets, just write “-n 50”.
- Look at the test measurements and see if there is any packet loss.
The image below is from a stable Internet connection with no packet loss and transmission speeds of almost 0 ms.
As a comparison, the image below shows an unstable Internet connection with 32% packet loss and transmission speeds of 300 ms.
If your ping test is more similar to the unstable connection in the second image, then that means the problem might be hardware related:
- Your router is too far away from your PC.
- Your router is faulty or failing.
- Your hardware might be ok, but your Internet connection might not be. Contact your ISP so they can check.
- Your router isn’t properly configured.
It’s important to note that this test doesn’t tell you what the problem is, except that there’s a problem somewhere.
In this case, you will pretty much have to do further tests until you can find the most likely culprit.
Try using a powerline adapter
Computers connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi usually suffer from a more unstable connection, but have the advantage of not having to deal with Ethernet cables.
However, there is an elegant solution that can offer a more stable connection without laying down long Ethernet cables: powerline adapters.
Powerline adaptors basically work by transmitting Internet data through your home’s electric wires instead of Ethernet or wirelessly like Wi-Fi.
They are also simple to use:
- Get 2 powerline adapters.
- Plug the first powerline adapter in an electrical wall outlet near your router.
- Connect the first powerline adapter to the router using an Ethernet cable.
- Plug the second powerline adapter in a wall outlet near your computer.
- Connect the second powerline adapter to your computer using an ethernet cable.
As you can see, powerline adapters are pretty simple to use and very convenient. But they come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest advantage is that their Internet connection is much, much more stable than a wireless connection.
The second advantage is convenience, since you don’t need to lay down long Ethernet cables around the house.
However, powerline adapters also have some disadvantages.
The greatest disadvantage is the Internet’s speed. The connection itself will almost always be stable, but not always fast.
This is because the Internet speed you get when using powerline adapters strongly depends on the quality of your house’s electrical wiring.
Thus, a 100 MB/s connection can be 5, 10, or even 50 MB/s. It’s very random and almost impossible to know without trying first.
Because of this, our suggestion is to buy a pair of powerline adapters from sites with good return policies, test them to see if they work for you, and then either keep or return them.
Try different Wi-Fi channels and frequencies
Wi-Fi routers communicate Internet data through certain channels and frequencies. In certain cases, it’s possible for an external source to interfere with your Wi-Fi signal.
When this happens, your Internet data could get scrambled, causing you to experience lag spikes, lost packets, slow connections, etc.
To avoid this, consider switching the channel and frequency of your Wi-Fi router until you find one that’s faster and more stable.
This lets you know which channels are unoccupied, so you can reconfigure your Wi-Fi router on that particular channel.
If your Wi-Fi router supports it, also consider switching frequencies.
A 2.4 GHz connection travels farther at lower speeds, while 5 GHz frequencies provide faster speeds at a shorter range. Your choice of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz will depend on where and how you use your Wi-Fi connection the most.
Because every Wi-Fi router is different, you’ll have to consult the user manual or Google “how to change channel for [router name]” to find the exact steps.
It can be the game’s fault
Are you having ping spikes only when playing one specific game and nowhere else?
If the answer is yes, then the problem probably has more to do with the game rather than your Internet setup or hardware.
There are too many video games out there to give an answer for each, but some common solutions to fix ping spikes in multiplayer games are:
- Limiting the maximum FPS to restrict how much data is sent to the server.
- One by one, close every non-Windows process until you find the one that conflicts with the game and causes ping spikes.
- Create an exception for the game in your Windows Firewall or Windows Defender settings.
- The game itself might be suffering from poor netcode and connection issues in certain regions.
It’s very difficult to say why you might have ping spikes only in a particular game, so look around for solutions in the game’s community boards, subreddits, forums, etc.
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