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Lag (English delay ) is an increased delay time in computer networks and telephone systems . This usually occurs when there are problems with a server-client connection , when data packets between the participants in such a connection take an unexpectedly long time to reach their destination.

Strictly speaking, every transmitted data packet is affected by a delay, as physical restrictions mean that a transmission time without delay is not possible. However, one speaks of a “lag” only when a noticeable delay occurs beyond the average latency period.

Lags on computer networks

As part of the internet jargon, the word is particularly widespread among server administrators , chatters and online gamers.

Online games

"Lag" is particularly annoying in applications where the reaction time of the remote station is particularly important for correct operation, such as in tactical shooters . For example, with a delay of around 100 ms it can happen that a strange player is shown in a position within a computer game where he is no longer located because the client has not yet been supplied with the current data. One then speaks of a "bad ping ". In online shooters , this means that players seem to move jerkily or shots taken go nowhere.

The low frame rate (FPS) of a computer game, which is represented by jerking, is often incorrectly referred to as “lag”. The real reason for this, however, is that the computer does not perform well as the game demands. In the case of a “real lag”, the display of the surroundings is still fluid. Only with some old computer games based on DirectPlay (or using no threads ) does the frame rate actually depend on the ping time (e.g. GTA 2 ). This is especially the case when games are only intended to be played in the local area network (LAN) and are played over the Internet using VPN software such as LogMeIn Hamachi .

root cause

Mostly, "lags" arise from overloading individual parts of a network connection. Overloading can occur when more data is requested than the bandwidth made available in the network can be transmitted. A lag can also arise due to line damage or excessive system load on the server or client.

Large delays and packet losses often occur simultaneously in the network.

Online chat

A message entered in a chat can reach the recipient with a delay due to a "lag". Especially in conversations with a high frequency of new messages, misunderstandings can easily arise among the conversation partners.

Lags in telecommunications

As Lag designated delays in the transmission of data occurs as in telephone networks and radar systems. A radio signal needs approx. 5 µs for every kilometer covered.