100% packet loss: What does it mean and how to fix it?

by Vlad Constantinescu
Vlad Constantinescu
Vlad Constantinescu
VPN Expert & Privacy Advocate
Vlad might have a degree in Animal Husbandry and Livestock Management, but he's currently rocking anything software related, ranging from testing programs to writing in-depth reviews about them.... read more
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  • 100% packet loss is an extreme situation that may even render you unable to access the Internet. It can be caused by a broad range of factors, especially network congestion.
  • 100% packet loss occurs whenever no packet that you send makes it to the destination. As a result, there's no response from the server.
  • Check out our best VPNs to improve packet loss.
  • Visit our What-Is Hub to discover more articles and DIY fixes for (un)common issues.

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100% packet loss is an extreme situation that may even render you unable to access the Internet. It can be caused by a broad range of factors and can be located everywhere throughout your connection or just on specific nodes.

However, even if it sounds bad, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world. Fortunately, nowadays we have the necessary tools to identify the location of the issue and troubleshoot it effectively.

But first, let’s do a quick recap.

What does 100% packet loss mean?

Packet loss is a phenomenon that occurs whenever packets of data that you send or receive never make it to their destination. The amount of the packets that are lost within the session are translated into percentage values.

So, for instance, you send 100 packets, but only 84 reach the destination point. By subtracting them out of the total, we have 14 data packets that get lost on the way. Thus, we can say that we have a 14% packet loss.

100% packet loss occurs whenever no packet that you send makes it to the destination. As a result, there’s no response from the server we pinged (or attempted to send the requests to).

What causes 100% packet loss?

Here’s where things get a bit complicated. Packet loss can be caused by a lot of factors. For instance, even old Ethernet cables or outdated network adapter drivers can lead to packet leaks.

On the other hand, it seems one of the factors outweighs them all: network congestion. More often than not, you’ll find that being on an overcrowded network can lead to packet loss, and the bad news is that you can’t do much to prevent it.

But that mostly applies for less severe cases of packet loss (i.e. when it’s not 100%). A 100% packet loss is, as we’ve said earlier, severe, as it means there’s absolutely zero connectivity between two of the nodes on the network.

How to test packet loss?

  1. Launch an elevated instance of CMD (administrator rights)
  2. Run a ping on google.com (or any other site you’re comfortable with)
  3. Write down the IP address of the site you chose
  4. Run pathping x.x.x.x (replace x.x.x.x with the IP you jotted down earlier)
  5. Wait for the test to come to an end
  6. Check the packet loss value for each hop in your connection
Results of pathping

Each hop in your connection is related to a part of your route. As the hop number increases, your connection strays further away from the device you tested from. Check the screenshot below.
For instance, the first hop will always be your PC, and the last one will be the destination server (i.e. google.com, if you used our example).

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Any hops in between the source and destination will either belong to your ISP, the upstream network distribution company, and relay servers.

How do I fix 100% packet loss?

1. Use a VPN

  1. Download Private Internet Access
  2. Install it on your PC and launch it
  3. Log into your PIA account
  4. Connect to a fast server (low ping one)
  5. Check if the problem still persists

Often times your ISP can cause the 100% packet loss situation by either throttling your bandwidth, blocking you, or having improper network routing. It’s easy to see whether your ISP is the cause or not during the test.

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Just use the screenshot above to check if the packet loss occurs on your ISP’s side or not.

However, note that not even using a VPN can help you if your Internet connection is completely down. Sometimes an ISP might cut your connection for various reasons (maybe you’re late with the payment).

In this situation, not even a VPN can help you.

2. Troubleshoot your connection manually

  • First thing first, call your ISP and ask them if they know anything about it
  • Check every component of your home network if the test shows 100% packet loss on your side
  • Contact the destination server’s owner if the tests show there’s something wrong with it
  • Switch to wired instead of wireless (Wi-Fi packet loss occurs more often)
  • Restart your router and/or modem
  • Rule out your router by plugging your PC straight to the modem or home line
  • Check if your firewall or security software isn’t blocking your connection attempts
  • Rule out any malfunctions in your network configuration
  • Make sure there’s actually a route between you and the destination server, if possible

Sometimes your network routing might impede you from accessing a certain service or website. In those cases, running a pathping test will often return confusing results, such as an unreachable ping destination host, but no packet loss.

You can often fix 100% packet loss

All things considered, 100% packet loss might be an extreme connectivity issue, but it can be fixed nevertheless. More often than not it’s caused by your ISP, which will be glad to assist you in solving it. You just have to give them a call.

Other times it can be caused by improper routing, or even DDoS attacks if you’re unfortunate enough.

Using a VPN might help if there seems to be an issue on your ISP’s side of the connection. However, note that it won’t do much if your ISP has cut down your connection completely (for, say, not paying your subscription).

Last, but not least, using a VPN can sometimes make things worse, especially if it comes with a built-in firewall. Make sure you have all the right facts before deciding to invest in a VPN for attempting to fix 100% packet loss.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you have a 100% packet loss, it means that all packets get lost between certain hops on your connection. Which, in turn, renders you unable to reach the destination server.

  • Run a pathping test and locate the troublesome hop in your connection. Depending on the test results, you might need to call your ISP, contact the destination server’s owner, or perform a bit of manual troubleshooting on your end to fix the issue.

  • Yes, you can use a VPN to improve packet loss, but it will only work if your ISP is throttling your bandwidth.

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