How Can You Test Network Latency in Automation Testing?

In the current high-speed business landscape, dependable and effective network connectivity is a pivotal element for any organization’s triumph. Latency significantly affects the user experience across websites and applications. Assessing latency aids in pinpointing its source. With appropriate automation testing tools, you can discern whether latency stems from the internet, your network, device, browser, or the server or site you’re accessing. 

Conducting tests to evaluate network latency helps pinpoint potential problems and enables the implementation of measures to enhance connectivity for optimal speed and consistency. 

This article delves into methods for checking network latency, testing techniques, and enhancing the user experience for your website visitors and employees.

What is network latency?

Network latency represents the duration for data or a request to travel from its origin to its intended destination. This measurement in networks is typically quantified in milliseconds, and a lower latency value indicates better performance.

Recognizable indicators of high latency encompass:

  • Prolonged duration to send data, like an email containing a sizable attachment
  • Sluggish access to servers or web applications
  • Failure of websites to load promptly

Evaluating and enhancing your network’s latency holds significance not only for business efficiency but also for reducing frustration during your workday.

What triggers network latency problems?

Network latency problems arise when packets within the network encounter obstacles or experience delays during transit. Although the causes can be diverse, understanding the concept of network latency is crucial to effectively addressing such issues.

Latency-related problems, often indicated by a slow response time or “high latency,” can manifest as websites failing to load, data experiencing prolonged sending times, and sluggish application performance.

Typical causes contributing to latency comprise:

  • Distance: Increased distance between two devices leads to longer data travel times, resulting in heightened latency.
  • Network congestion: Heavy network traffic can cause data packets to experience delays or loss, subsequently raising latency levels.
  • Network equipment: Latency problems can arise from outdated or improperly configured network equipment like routers, switches, and related devices.
  • Bandwidth limitations: Insufficient available bandwidth for handling transmitted data volumes can lead to heightened latency within a network.
  • Protocol overhead: Certain network protocols, like TCP/IP, necessitate additional transmitted data alongside each packet, contributing to latency.
  • Wireless interference: Interference from external devices or environmental factors in wireless networks can cause delays or loss of data packets, elevating latency.
  • Processing delays: The processing and routing of data packets by network devices like routers and switches may introduce additional time, thereby contributing to latency.

Determining the Underlying Causes of Network Latency

Discovering the origins of network latency is crucial for enhancing network performance and dependability. However, uncovering the specific source of latency can be intricate and time-intensive.

Outlined here are several steps that IT experts can undertake to identify the underlying causes of network latency.

  • Initiating a comprehensive evaluation of your network infrastructure is key. This audit aids in pinpointing outdated equipment, incorrect configurations, or other potential issues contributing to latency.
  • Leveraging network monitoring tools is essential. These tools offer real-time insights into network performance, including latency metrics, which can reveal patterns and trends indicating the source of latency problems.
  • Testing individual network components, such as routers, switches, and cables, assists in precisely locating where latency issues arise.
  • Examining network traffic patterns provides valuable information to identify congested areas contributing to latency.
  • Employing diagnostic tools specifically designed to test network latency can significantly aid in pinpointing and understanding where delays are occurring.

Once the root causes of network latency are identified, addressing these issues becomes paramount. This may involve upgrading equipment, optimizing network configurations, or implementing traffic management strategies to alleviate congestion. Regular monitoring and ongoing testing are crucial to maintaining an optimized network for sustained peak performance.

Why is monitoring network latency essential?

The monitoring of network latency holds significant importance due to its potential impact on overall network performance, devices, and applications operating within it. Low or acceptable latency levels typically ensure satisfactory network performance unless other issues are present.

However, excessive network latency can lead to sluggish or halted performance of devices, services, and applications. In severe cases, unaddressed high latency may result in packet loss. Packet loss occurs when one or more data packets fail to reach their intended destination due to network disruptions, connectivity problems, or latency issues. 

Even if the network speed is restored promptly after a slowdown, those packets affected by latency-induced delays must recommence their transmission, significantly hampering network performance.

How to detect and gauge latency within a network

Latency within a network can be assessed through two primary methods: roundtrip time (RTT) and time to first byte (TTFB). RTT gauges the duration taken for a data packet to complete its roundtrip journey from the source to the destination and back. On the other hand, TTFB measures the time it takes for the server to receive the initial byte of the data packet after a client initiates a request.

For manual latency measurement on Windows, you can access a command prompt and specify the destination you suspect is experiencing sluggishness. By summing up the gathered measurements, you can estimate the latency between your system and the concerned application or website.

Nevertheless, employing a dedicated tool for measuring network latency can offer a more automated—and generally more precise—assessment.

How to troubleshoot and diminish network latency

There are several approaches you can take to mitigate network latency:

  • Monitor network usage: Assessing the number of users accessing your network is essential. Network strain arising from excessive users can significantly contribute to latency. Observe the network usage during peak times, such as post-lunch, to identify potential overextensions of your network.
  • Utilize wired connections: Wireless connections are more susceptible to latency. Switching to an Ethernet cable connection can help diminish latency and boost speeds by bypassing potential wireless interference.
  • Reboot network hardware: Periodically restarting your hardware can address latent network issues that might have accumulated over time due to prolonged operation.
  • Deploy a network latency monitoring tool: Utilizing specialized tools for network latency monitoring provides detailed insights into network interactions. These tools often offer a comprehensive overview of application statuses through a dashboard, aiding in the identification, analysis, and resolution of network latency problems.

What is cloud latency?

Cloud latency is the time lapse between a client initiating a request and a cloud service generating a response. This delay occurs due to the interaction between the client and a cloud server across the public internet, making it challenging to address latency concerns within cloud services.

You can utilize a cloud-based platform like LambdaTest to analyze how your website or application behaves under varied latency conditions across different browsers and devices using frameworks like Selenium, Cypress, and more. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that allows users to test across 3000+ testing environments and real devices.

Network Latency tools

The following are commonly used tools for testing network latency:

  • Ping
  • Traceroute
  • iPerf

Each of these tools possesses distinct strengths and weaknesses when evaluating latency. While some are effective for assessing internet latency, others are more suited for assessing local or private network latency.

Ping and Traceroute Latency Testing

Both Ping and traceroute serve as latency tests that can be executed directly from your PC. They are utilized for examining both online and internet latency, along with latency within your local network.

Measuring network latency with PING

Ping is the most straightforward method to measure network latency from your computer.

How ping works

Ping, an intrinsic latency test tool available across operating systems, gauges the Round Trip Time (RTT) between your PC and a designated target (domain or IP address). RTT denotes the time taken for a ping packet to reach the target and return with a response. It essentially measures the total latency in acquiring a response from a server, PC, router, or internet site.


  • Simplicity
  • There is no need for additional installations
  • A quick way to check for latency issues


  • ICMP packets may be blocked by intermediate firewalls, restricting latency measurements.
  • The ICMP protocol might be handled with low priority by intermediate routers, affecting measurement accuracy.
  • Inability to discern network latency in specific directions (e.g., upload vs. download), limiting detection of directional latency problems affecting applications like web conferencing tools

Measuring network performance with Traceroute

Traceroute serves as an alternative to ping for testing latency. It is available across various operating systems, using commands like “tracert” in Windows and “traceroute” in Linux and Mac.

How Traceroute works

Traceroute identifies intermediate routers between a source and a destination by leveraging the Time To Live (TTL) field in IP packets. This technique tests the latency of each hop along the network path and reveals their IP addresses. It offers deeper insights into the source of network latency issues.


  • Ease of use
  • Visualization of the network path
  • Limitations
  • Relies on ICMP packets (similar to ping), facing comparable limitations
  • Only measures round-trip latency


  • Faces similar limitations if it uses ICMP
  • Advanced Approaches to Testing Latency

OWAMP – One-Way Network Latency Testing

OWAMP assesses network latency in one direction without relying on the ICMP protocol.


  • Precise one-way network latency measurement
  • Detailed latency test results


  • Requires OWAMP capabilities at both ends
  • Needs proper clock synchronization for accurate one-way latency measurement
  • Lacks NAT support

TWAMP – Bidirectional Latency Testing

TWAMP is a variation of OWAMP that allows checking latency in both directions simultaneously.


  • Measures latency in both directions
  • Offers high accuracy in latency results;


  • Requires TWAMP capabilities at both ends
  • Needs proper clock synchronization for one-way latency measurement
  • Lacks NAT support
  • iPerf – Network Latency Performance Testing
  • iPerf, primarily designed to test throughput and packet transmission, does not specifically test latency.


  • Supports UDP and TCP to assess network performance
  • Configurable parameters for specific use cases


  • Requires client/server implementation on both ends
  • It doesn’t directly test network latency


This article furnishes an extensive guide to testing network latency and provides tools and methodologies for your reference. Effectively testing network latency is a crucial factor in monitoring, addressing issues, and enhancing the performance and overall user experience of applications.

While basic latency tests using ping or traceroute commands are accessible from any PC, they come with notable limitations when it comes to accurately measuring latency:

Limited precision in latency measurement is due to the handling of ICMP test packets by routers and hosts. Solely provides Round-Trip Time (RTT) latency, thus lacking the capability to assess latency in a specific traffic direction.

However, for those managing both ends of the test, utilizing OWAMP or TWAMP presents a superior option for latency testing. These methods offer more precise measurements and enable the detection of latency issues independently in each direction.

Implementing and coordinating these latency tests in a distributed and complex production environment can be challenging; hence, their common use is primarily among telecom service providers, where network latency significantly impacts their production network performance.

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