WiFi packet loss: What is it and how to fix it?

Vlad Constantinescu
by Vlad Constantinescu
VPN Expert & Privacy Advocate
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  • Using wireless Internet connections is becoming increasingly popular. It reduces cable clutter, works on multiple device types, and allows more devices than a regular Ethernet connection.
  • However, losing packets on WiFi is a frequent issue that's usually caused by network congestion. We'll teach you all about packet loss on WiFi and how to counter it successfully.
  • Check out the best VPNs for WiFi home network use.
  • Visit our How-To Hub to learn more about troubleshooting all your VPN issues.
Packet loss WiFi
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Using wireless Internet connections is becoming increasingly popular. The main reason is obviously, a wire-free environment. Although more efficient, wires can quickly clutter a place, or at least make it seem that way.

More so, routers are able to accommodate many wireless devices. More than the Ethernet ports on its interface, anyway. And the fact that you can use it on a wider variety of devices makes it even more convenient.

However, using wireless certainly has its downsides, which we’ll discuss briefly in the following sections.

Pros and Cons of WiFi

Pros:

  • It can accommodate a large number of devices
  • You can use it on multiple device types (phones, consoles, tablets)
  • Reduces cable cluttering

Cons:

  • Slower connection speeds
  • Interference
  • Prone to being hacked (wireless passwords can be cracked)
  • Packet loss

What causes WiFi packet loss?

The most common cause of packet loss is network congestion. Therefore, if there are more than just a few devices connected to your wireless network, you might need to do a bit of network management.

However, there can be other causes, as well. For instance, your router might broadcast a weak signal or your ISP might throttle your bandwidth to minimize its costs.

Packet loss WiFi fix

1. Use a VPN

  1. Download Private Internet Access on your PCprotect your data with Private Internet Access
  2. Install it
  3. Launch it
  4. Log into your account
  5. Connect to the server of your choice
  6. Check if the problem still persists

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Using a VPN can do a huge difference if your ISP is ill-intentioned and limits your bandwidth. However, there’s not much a VPN can do if you have hardware issues, your network is overloaded, or the destination server is faulty.

2. Troubleshoot your connection

  • Use our guide to help you run a packet loss testPacket loss analysis Windows with tracert and pathping
  • Identify the troublesome hops on your network
  • Take the corresponding measures depending on the test results

As we’ve said above, more often than not, WiFi packet loss occurs due to network congestion. Thus, there’s nothing much you can do about it, especially if you’re not the network admin.

However, after you run the packet loss test, you can try one of the following suggestions:

  • Fix/upgrade/update/repair/replace any faulty component on your network (PC, router, cables)
  • Call your ISP and ask them to fix the issue if the problem’s on their side
  • Ask your ISP to contact the network distribution company
  • Contact the destination server’s owner (e.g. game server owner, customer support)

When everything else fails, switch to wired

Although this article is supposed to help you bypass WiFi packet loss, the truth is that switching to wired (if and when possible) is the greatest way to avoid this unwanted phenomenon.

Alternatively, you can try using a VPN if you suspect your ISP of foul play, try our suggestions above, or even perform a bit of network management if you have administrative rights over your network.

FAQ: Learn more about WiFi packet loss

  • What causes WiFi packet loss?

A lot of things, ranging from bad cables, poor signal, and improper network routing to network congestion and even cyber-attacks can lead to WiFi packet loss.

  • How to reduce packet loss on WiFi?

Limit the maximum number of devices that can connect to your router. Choose another broadcast signal if you suspect interferences to be the culprit. Use a VPN to reduce packet loss if you think your ISP throttles your bandwidth.

  • Do WiFi antennas help deal with packet loss?

Yes. Replacing your WiFi antennas with more powerful ones will boost the signal, which in turn will reduce packet loss.