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June 15, 2021
World of Warcraft (WoW) is king of MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game).
Roughing around 4.5 million active users, Blizzard touts the most impressive server hosting in the world.
Accessing Battle.net isn’t without it’s hiccups though. Supporting over 4 million players is a feat unto itself. Supporting 4 million users all with difference upload and download speeds, and latency differentials – crazy!
While you’ll never fix a laggy “LEROOOOOY JENKIIIIIIIIIIINS!” You can do your best to make your own connection as flawless as possible. Be the best guild member you can be, cause as few problems inside your quest group as possible, and fix your latency issues, “for the horde.”
Lag vs Latency
Let’s get the big one out of the way. There IS a difference between Lag and Latency. Latency is considered, “the restricted movement of data from the transmitter to the receiver.”
So in lay terms, the number of milliseconds (ms) it takes from the moment you click, for the action to reflect that on the screen. Naturally, a lower latency is better. The fewer the milliseconds it takes between user input and character reaction–the more seamless the gameplay.
Lag then is essentially the repercussions of latency. It’s the amount of time it takes the computer, server, or host to catch up with the delay of received information. The higher your latency, the worse the lag.
There are exceptions to this. Lag could be the result of an overcrowded server, minimized bandwidth from the host to your computer, or other company faults like bugs, maintenance, or faulty patches (nerfs).
Altogether, there really is no cure for latency, but you can take steps to maximize data flow and bandwidth on your end. If you do experience lag, you’ll at least be able to rule out user error.
How Do I Reduce Lag in WoW
Many Blizzard Forums are written by developers or tech agents. They target right off the bat user errors. These things can range from dumping your DNS and renewing your IP, to resetting your user interface.
Before delving into any online play, double check with the developers latest patch notes and minimum operating system requirements. Some latency issues could be the result of outdated graphics cards, incompatible network adapters, or even just low RAM.
Gaming performance is wildly dependent on a solid internet connection. Blizzard’s a smart company and understands that all 4.5 million of their users aren’t going to have access to the best tech on the market.
It’s this reason their bandwidth caps at about 64kbps on it’s upload–meaning almost any broadband internet will do. So if you’re playing WoW and you experience network latency, it’s more likely an overloaded graphics card, than it is your internet (unless you’re still using dial-up).
If it’s not your internet service, your computer is probably trying to do too much. To reduce latency, try to close out of other applications or other services on your device that are rending large pieces of information (web browsers, streaming services, downloads, etc.).
Packet loss is something that happens when pieces of information don’t reach the network–often it’s what causes the jumpy, glitchy lag vs the freeze up kind of lag. When your computer is rendering information, it prioritizes based on network connection and host size.
So if you’re streaming Netflix, Google or Safari might prioritize that servers host over playing online. The delay in reception of “packet” reception is called packet loss, and that information just gets dumped altogether. Limiting the number of devices connected, reducing the number of tasks each device is working on, and even hardwiring to your router or modem with an ethernet cable can all help your computer process a little easier.
Lag and Latency Reduction
Okay, you’ve checked and double checked your hardware. You’re up to date, and you’re sure it’s not a you problem. Players can still do a few latency lag fixes, and find out where it’s coming from and then hopefully minimize its effects.
Check the Realm Status:
This may seem obvious, but it’s the first step. If the realm status is showing overcrowding, then the data might be having problems at the server level.
Hover the mouse over the Game Menu icon to see the world and home latency connections. If the world’s latency is high, then it’s a server problem. You can hop to a different server or realm if you’d like.
World of Warcraft lag spikes usually happen anytime there’s a new patch or release.
If you can’t find the latency status, a quick “why is WoW lagging so bad” search in a Blizzard forum should give you any live outages or delays. There’s typically a surge in searches for things like, “WoW Legion lag fix,” or “World of Warcraft lagging bfa” after big updates and releases–follow the crowd that’s experiencing your same problems and the community will typically find solid fixes faster than techs and developers.
This was mentioned briefly before, but a wireless connection will always add latency to bandwidth. One of the simplest fixes is simply a wired connection.
Disconnect from the router and use an ethernet cable to connect directly to your server. Also, if others are using the router at the same time, it is possible that there are too many people splitting bandwidth.
Internet Connection Speed:
Chances are your internet is fast enough, but the render from the server to your computer, and then the optimization from your computer back to the server might be contributing to that packet loss we talked about. It’s truly trying its best, but to help it out follow these steps:
- While the game is open, press the “Esc” key
- Select “System”
- Click “Network”.
- Players with high-speed Internet: click the “Optimize Network for Speed” check box.
- Players with low-speed internet should leave it blank.
(“Optimize Network for Speed” changes the amount of data in each packet. Leaving it blank tells the game to not send as much data in each packet–improving overall latency)
Drivers and Updates:
Verify that every piece of hardware dealing with the acceptance of data is up to date. Modems, ethernet cards, cables, and routers all require either drivers or firmware to make them run. Just like software, hardware too needs to be updated to run properly.
This is more likely to cause your World of Warcraft input lag than Blizzards server lag.
Take an Internet Speed Test:
Bandwidth Place offers HTML5 speed tests (favorable over Flash). This can help isolate connectivity problems. If the Internet connection is slower than you’re paying for, then it’s neither Blizzard nor your fault–it’s actually the cable provider.
Make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Test Your Internet Speed. Get the most out of your gaming, and make sure your provider isn’t slowing you down.