If your business relies on the rapid distribution of online content to customers, it’s imperative to try and combat latency as far as possible. The delay between an action being requested by a user terminal and a response arriving is usually measured in thousandths of a second, which is remarkable given the internet’s complex infrastructure. Yet fifty milliseconds of delay can noticeably affect the user experience, whether your business involves streaming media content, mobile gaming apps or ecommerce.
Latency is affected by numerous factors, from the geographic distance to the routing protocols followed by each individual data packet. Below, we outline ten easy steps which will help to combat latency. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate any delay in data transfers, it is possible to prevent latency having a discernible impact on the overall UX:
1. Choose a web hosting company with global server infrastructure.
At 100TB, we’ve opened 28 data centers from the west coast to the Far East. Localized data transfers help to combat latency, since connection speeds are currently restricted to the speed of light, and every waypoint along the journey adds a fractional delay.
2. Ensure there’s plentiful server space.
Another key responsibility of good hosting providers is to combat latency by preventing servers from becoming overloaded. A lack of capacity may result in slow or glitchy performance, so additional capacity should always be available for sudden spikes in bandwidth.
3. Optimize data routes.
This builds on the first two points. Data packets can either be sent along the quickest geographic route or the fastest. Algorithmic analysis of data routes (as championed by streaming media firms) directs individual packets down paths with the lowest latency.
4. Take a proactive approach to malware.
One of the biggest drains on internet bandwidth is malware, which harnesses connections for its own malevolent uses. Deep scans of root directories and folders will help to weed out malware, and customers should be encouraged to run regular antivirus scans too.
5. Streamline web content and compress media files.
Ultimately, there’s only so much you can do to expedite the journeys that data takes. Another positive step involves reducing file volumes. This can be done in numerous ways, such as compressing graphics, streamlining HTML, reducing unnecessary CSS and plugins, etc.
6. Offer adaptive bitrates.
Alternatively, if your business involves streaming media content, adaptive bitrates ensure file quality never exceeds available bandwidth. Encoding each footage segment with the H.264 codec delivers the best picture quality consumer connections support at that instant.
7. Use universal file formats.
Building on the last point, it’s crucial to encode files using the Moving Picture Expert Group’s Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP format. The fragmented MP4 files of MPEG-DASH will play on almost every web-enabled device, from phones to PCs.
8. Set minimum bandwidth criteria for clients.
Having optimized data routes and minimized file sizes, it’s necessary to outline minimum connection speeds on FAQs or sign-up pages. While this might scare off a few potential clients, it’ll eliminate complaints from people whose line speeds can’t support your services.
9. Beta-test services prior to going live.
Don’t assume your products or services will be seamlessly accessible until you’ve rigorously tested them. Get multiple people using different devices (ideally in varied locations) to test the system throughout a 24-hour cycle, and investigate any dips in speed or efficiency.
10. Work towards 5G adoption.
Forward-thinking service providers are anticipating the advent of 5G, which could slash latency to just 1ms across a network. The rollout is scheduled to start next year, potentially supporting 400,000 connections in one square mile with achievable speeds of 1Gbps.