DNS latency is the time it takes for digital data to reach its intended destination and return to the sender. It determines the efficiency of information exchange. The lower the latency, the faster communication occurs.
DNS latency has to do with the Domain Name System (DNS), which translates human-readable domain names into computer-readable Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. You see, it’s easier for most people to remember words instead of numbers but computers process information by turning words into numbers. That’s why for your browser to take you to the website you’re looking for, it has to translate domain names into IP addresses, which the DNS does. But since we can all be impatient, the speed or latency at which that process occurs should be fast.
Read More about “DNS Latency”
We’ll talk more about DNS latency here, specifically how it differs from bandwidth, what factors affect it, and the usual culprits for high latency.
How Does Latency Differ from Bandwidth?
While many may think their Internet access speed has to do with their network bandwidth, that is not the case.
Bandwidth refers to the range of frequencies a network uses for data transmission. It is measured in megabits per second (Mbps), which most Internet service providers (ISPs) advertise. But you should know that a high-bandwidth plan doesn’t necessarily mean getting fast Internet connection speed.
Latency, meanwhile, refers to the delay you experience when you click a link and wait for a page to load. It is measured in milliseconds (ms) and sometimes called “ping.” Standard Internet service plans have a latency of 150–200 ms, which isn’t that good. The higher your latency, the greater the delay, which is a problem for gamers and businesses that rely on real-time communication.
Given the facts above, a gamer should prioritize low latency over high bandwidth if he or she wishes to experience fewer lags.
What Factors Affect DNS Latency?
Four factors affect your DNS latency—processing, queuing, transmission, and propagation. We’ll explain each below.
Processing refers to the time it takes a device to process information. When the data reaches your router, the device needs time to access and analyze it before it gets sent to the next stop—your computer. The faster your router is, the quicker the data gets processed and reaches your browser.
Every Internet transmission requires dealing with packets. These could take the form of files you’re downloading, emails you’re sending, or websites you’re accessing. Your router and computer handle data one packet at a time to process your request. But it has to fall and wait in line. The order the packets get processed by a device depends on its queuing algorithms.
Transmission delay refers to the time it takes to gain access to the data and put it in the network link. It’s how long it takes for accessed data to get sent to your browser. That is where bandwidth comes in. The higher your bandwidth, the faster you receive the data.
Last but not least, distance affects latency, meaning the distance between the point where the data is accessed and where it came from matters. But no matter what you do, you can’t reduce this time. Buying a higher-bandwidth device can’t reduce your DNS latency. If you’re accessing a U.S.-hosted site from the Philippines, the latency will remain high because of the distance between the two countries.
What Are the Common Causes of High Latency?
A lot of things can account for high latency. We discussed the most common ones below.
Where the DNS Server You’re Accessing Is Located
We explained how distance affects latency. That said, the farther the DNS server you’re accessing is from your location, the higher the latency. There is, however, a solution for that. Using a centralized DNS server, which isn’t affected by distance, may work. Choose a server provider whose transit links are equipped with the latest technology.
Type of Network You Use
A wireless network has a higher latency than a wired one because data transfer doesn’t occur via fixed lines. Wireless networks use Wi-Fi routers or satellite dishes whose efficiency depends on their location.
Presence of Malicious DNS Traffic
Malicious DNS traffic can also be a culprit for high latency. That’s because a DNS server doubles its processing time. The more queries a DNS server receives, the slower its processing time and, therefore, the higher the latency.
Given all that, DNS latency has a lot to do with user experience (UX). The lower your DNS latency is, the better.