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Table of Contents
Has your network been bitten by the jitterbug? Are you tired of your network dancing the jitterbug? Do you find yourself constantly tapping your foot waiting for pages to load or downloads to finish?
Network jitter is your network's biggest enemy when using unified communications and real-time apps like IP telephony, video conferencing, and virtual desktop infrastructure. Troubleshooting and measuring jitter helps you avoid sounding like a robot on video calls.
Well, fear not, because in this blog post we're going to teach you how to measure jitter, test jitter on a network using Obkio Network Monitoring, and keep your network jitterbug free! We'll guide you through the steps to diagnose and fix any jitter issues, so that your network can perform smooth moves without any annoying jitters.
Network Jitter is one of the core network metrics that you should be measuring when monitoring your network performance.
What is jitter in networks? Jitter is a variation in delay of the arrival of data packets - also known as a disruption that occurs while data packets travel across the network. Network jitter refers to the variation in time between packets of data that are sent and received over a network.
Jitter can cause issues in real-time applications such as video conferencing, online gaming, and voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls, where timing is critical. If packets arrive too late or too early, it can result in glitches, delays, or lost data, leading to a poor user experience. Therefore, measuring and reducing jitter is an important aspect of network performance optimization.
Network jitter is usually measured in milliseconds (ms).
Network jitter is measured by calculating the average time difference between each packet sequence. So, to measure jitter, we need to calculate the variation in delay between packets that are sent and received over a network. This variation is measured in milliseconds (ms) and is typically represented as an average deviation from the mean delay.
Here's an example: Let's say we send 10 packets of data over a network and measure the time it takes for each packet to arrive at its destination. The time between each packet arrival is recorded, and the average delay is calculated. If the average delay is 100ms and the variation in delay between packets is between 5ms and 10ms, then the jitter would be calculated as the average deviation from the mean delay, which would be somewhere between 5ms and 10ms.
Another way to measure jitter is to use the mean deviation (MD) or mean absolute deviation (MAD) from the mean delay. This is calculated by subtracting the mean delay from each packet delay, taking the absolute value of the result, and then calculating the average of those values. The MD or MAD represents the average deviation from the mean delay, regardless of whether the deviation is positive or negative.
Jitter can also be represented as a percentage of the average delay. For example, if the average delay is 100ms and the jitter is 10ms, then the jitter percentage would be 10% of the average delay.
Overall, there are different ways to measure network jitter, but the basic principle is to calculate the variation in delay between packets and represent it as an average deviation from the mean delay, in milliseconds or as a percentage.
Jitter is a network problem that you can hear - mostly because it makes you sound like a robot or laggy. Regardless, it’s still important to continuously measure jitter in your network to determine where it’s coming from and what’s causing it.
The most accurate way to test jitter is by using a tool like Obkio Network Performance Monitoring Software.
Obkio is a network performance monitoring tool that is designed to continuously measure network jitter and other metrics. One of the ways it does this is by sending packets at regular intervals of 500ms (or half a second). This is a common technique used to monitor network performance in real-time applications, such as voice-over-IP (VoIP) and unified communications (UC), where timing is critical.
By sending packets every 500ms, Obkio can capture any variations in delay or packet loss that may be affecting VoIP or UC applications. This information is then used to calculate the jitter and other metrics that are essential for maintaining optimal network performance.
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Obkio measures network jitter using continuous synthetic traffic from Network Monitoring Agents deployed in your most important network locations like offices, data centers and clouds.
For example, you can measure network jitter between your head office and the AWS network, or even between AWS and your data center.
The Agents measures jitter in your network by sending and monitoring data packets through your network every 500ms using for the most precise jitter measurements.
Once you’ve set up your Monitoring Agents, they will start measuring metrics like jitter and collecting data, which you can easily analyze on Obkio’s Network Response Time Graph.
Identify and measure jitter anywhere in your network with updates every minute. You can also further drill-down to identify where exactly the network jitter is happening, and start troubleshooting network issues.
The acceptable level of network jitter can vary depending on the type of application and the network environment. However, in general, a jitter level of up to 30ms is considered acceptable for most applications.
If the jitter level exceeds 30ms, it can start to impact real-time applications like VoIP, video conferencing, and gaming. In these cases, a jitter level of up to 50ms may still be acceptable, but beyond that, the user experience is likely to be significantly impacted.
For applications that are less time-critical, such as email or file transfers, jitter levels of up to 100ms may be acceptable, but any higher than that could result in noticeable delays and reduced performance.
It's important to note that these are general guidelines, and the acceptable level of jitter may vary depending on the specific requirements of the application or network. For example, in environments where real-time applications are critical, such as emergency services or healthcare, a much lower jitter level may be required to ensure optimal performance. Therefore, it's important to measure network jitter and adjust the acceptable level based on the specific needs of the application and network.
Unlike most monitoring solutions, Obkio automatically aggregates data over time to be able to display graphs over a large period of time.
With aggregation, Obkio shows you the worst jitter measurements in the aggregated graph. For example, the network jitter measurement displayed over an aggregated period of 1h is the worst median jitter of all the small 1-min periods within that hour.
This is important because only showing you the average amount of jitter on your network may hide network issues.
Let’s say you look at a 30-day period graph and you display the average amount of jitter every 4 hours. The average may be good, but you may have extremely high levels of jitter during one of those hours - which is a huge issue, especially if you’re using real-time applications.
Compared to other monitoring solutions, Obkio shows you the worst jitter measurements in order to highlight network issues, where they’re located and what’s causing them.
Learn how to measure network latency using Obkio’s Network Monitoring software to identify network issues & collect data to troubleshoot.Learn more
Jitter can affect different applications in different ways, depending on the nature of the application and the level of sensitivity to timing. With an end-to-end monitoring solution like Obkio, you have visibility of all your network locations, devices, and applications to understand how jitter is affecting different parts of your network.
Here are some examples:
- Voice-over-IP (VoIP): Jitter can cause delays in the transmission of voice packets, resulting in poor call quality, choppy audio, and even dropped calls. In VoIP, timing is critical, and any variations in delay can be very noticeable.
- Video conferencing: Like VoIP, video conferencing apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are highly sensitive to timing. Jitter can cause delays in the transmission of video packets, resulting in poor video quality, frozen frames, and delayed audio.
- Gaming: Online gaming requires fast and reliable network connections with low latency and minimal jitter. Jitter can cause delays in game response times, leading to lag, stuttering, and other performance issues that can significantly impact the player experi
- File transfers: While file transfers are not as sensitive to timing as real-time applications like VoIP and gaming, they can still be affected by jitter. Jitter can cause delays in the transmission of data packets, resulting in slower transfer speeds and longer wait times.
In general, any application that relies on real-time data transmission, such as voice or video, is likely to be sensitive to jitter. Even applications that are less time-critical, such as email or web browsing, can be impacted by excessive jitter if it leads to significant delays in packet delivery.
Therefore, it's important to monitor and measure network jitter and ensure that it stays within acceptable limits for all applications running on the network.
There are several factors that can cause network jitter, and they're not obvious to catch. Part of measuring jitter is understanding what is causing high levels of jitter in your network, and taking steps to solve it. A tool like Obkio will help you drill-down to understand what's causing jitter in your network.
But let's go over some of the most common causes of jitter:
- Congestion: When there is too much traffic on a network, it can cause delays in the transmission of packets, leading network congestion and jitter.
- Buffering: If packets are held in a buffer for too long before being sent, it can cause jitter when they are finally transmitted.
- Network latency: Latency is the time it takes for a packet to travel from one point to another on the network. When latency is high, it can cause jitter.
- Network equipment issues: Faulty network devices such as routers, switches, or cabling can cause jitter by delaying or dropping packets.
- Wireless interference: In wireless networks, interference from other devices can cause jitter by disrupting the transmission of packets.
It's important to identify the root cause of jitter in order to effectively mitigate it and improve network performance.
To more accurately measure jitter in your network, and be alerted of when it happens, Obkio sends jitter alerts based on historical data and not just static thresholds.
As soon as there’s a deviation in the historical data, and your network is experiencing jitter, Obkio sends you an alert.
Why do we do this? For simplicity.
Network performance is always measured between two points, but depending on where you’re monitoring performance, and even which technology (cable, DSL, fiber) you’re using, the amount of jitter can vary. This would force you to set up different jitter thresholds for every monitoring session - which is a lot of work.
By measuring jitter based on your baseline network performance, Obkio makes the setup much quicker and easier.
A great monitoring solution will also allow you to collect the data you need to troubleshoot jitter and optimize network performance. To troubleshoot jitter, leverage troubleshooting tools like:
- Obkio Vision Visual Traceroute tool
- Obkio Device Monitoring to identify exactly where, when, and why the network jitter is happening, and how to solve it.
Troubleshooting network jitter can be a complex process, but here are some steps you can take to identify and resolve jitter issues:
- Identify the source of the jitter: Start by monitoring network traffic to identify the source of the jitter. Jitter can be caused by a range of issues, including network congestion, packet loss, or hardware failures. Using a network monitoring tool like Obkio can help you quickly identify the source of the problem.
- Check for network congestion: Network congestion is a common cause of jitter, especially during peak usage hours. Check for network congestion by monitoring network traffic, looking for spikes in traffic volume or utilization rates. You may need to optimize network settings, such as Quality of Service (QoS) settings, to reduce congestion.
- Monitor for packet loss: Packet loss can cause significant jitter, especially for real-time applications like VoIP or video conferencing. Monitor for packet loss by examining network performance metrics, such as packet loss rates, and investigating any patterns or trends that may be contributing to the problem.
- Check hardware components: Faulty hardware components, such as routers or switches, can also cause jitter. Check the hardware components on your network and ensure they are functioning correctly. Replace any components that are faulty or outdated.
- Adjust network settings: Adjusting network settings, such as buffer sizes or packet sizes, can help reduce jitter. Experiment with different settings to find the optimal configuration for your network.
- Test and monitor: Once you have identified and resolved any issues contributing to network jitter, test and monitor network performance to ensure the problem has been resolved. Use a network monitoring tool to continuously monitor network performance and receive alerts if jitter levels exceed acceptable limits.
Following these steps can help you identify and resolve network jitter issues. This will ensure that your network and applications perform optimally without any annoying glitches or delays. So, get ready to bust some moves and keep your network Jitterbug-free with these troubleshooting tips!
You've caught the jitterbug - now it's time to make sure it doesn't come back! Here are some steps you can take to fix and reduce jitter in your network, and stop the jitterbug from impacting your network and application performance.
- Optimize network traffic: Network congestion is a common cause of jitter, especially during peak usage hours. Optimize network traffic by prioritizing time-critical traffic, such as VoIP and video conferencing, and allocating more bandwidth to these applications. This can be done through Quality of Service (QoS) settings or other traffic management techniques.
- Upgrade hardware: Upgrading hardware components, such as routers or switches, can help reduce jitter by providing faster processing speeds and more efficient packet handling. Make sure to choose hardware that is designed for your specific network needs and can handle the traffic volume and types of applications running on your network.
- Use buffering techniques: Buffering can help reduce jitter by temporarily storing packets and smoothing out variations in packet delivery times. However, too much buffering can lead to latency, so it's important to use buffering techniques wisely and optimize the buffer size for your network needs.
- Monitor and adjust network settings: Monitor network settings, such as packet sizes and buffer sizes, and adjust them as needed to reduce jitter. Experiment with different settings to find the optimal configuration for your network.
- Monitor network performance: Continuous monitoring of network performance can help you identify and address jitter issues as they arise. Use a network monitoring tool like Obkio to track network performance metrics and receive alerts if jitter levels exceed acceptable limits.
Just like how the Jitterbug dance requires continuous monitoring and adjustment to ensure smooth moves, reducing network jitter also requires ongoing monitoring and adjustment to ensure optimal network performance. By taking the steps mentioned above, you can minimize jitter and ensure your network applications dance to a jitter-free beat. So, put on your dancing shoes and keep on monitoring to maintain the jitterbug rhythm of your network!
Measuring network jitter is like taking the pulse of your Jitterbug dance partner - it helps you understand their rhythm and timing. To measure network jitter, you can use a variety of tools and techniques. In the steps above, we showed you how to measure jitter using Network Performance monitoring tools, because they're the most complete and detailed.
But here are some common more methods:
- Ping: Ping is a command-line tool that sends a series of packets to a target device and measures the time it takes for them to travel back and forth. By comparing the time differences between packets, you can calculate the jitter.
- Traceroute: Traceroute is another command-line tool that sends packets to a target device and records the time it takes for each hop along the way. By analyzing the time differences between hops, you can calculate the jitter.
- Network performance monitoring tools: There are many network performance monitoring tools available that can measure jitter, latency, packet loss, and other network metrics. Obkio sends packets every 500ms to catch jitter issues affecting VoIP, UC applications, and more. Just like how a skilled Jitterbug dancer can feel the pulse of their partner, network monitoring tools can measure the pulse of your network and identify any timing issues that may be causing jitter.
- VoIP testing tools: VoIP testing tools (or VoIP Monitoring tools) are specifically designed to measure jitter in real-time applications such as voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls. These tools simulate VoIP traffic and measure the quality of the connection, including jitter.
Overall, measuring network jitter requires a combination of tools and techniques to provide a comprehensive understanding of network performance. So, keep your network in rhythm by using the right tools to measure and monitor network jitter!
As we said above, jitter is one of the core network metrics which gives you an overview of your network performance and can also have a huge impact on the end user experience.
There are many reasons why you should be measuring jitter. Here’s why:
- Monitor network performance: Measuring network jitter is important because it helps you understand the quality of your network performance, especially for time-critical applications such as VoIP and video conferencing.
- Identify network issues: By measuring jitter, you can identify any timing issues that may be causing glitches or delays in your network traffic. This can help you proactively troubleshoot and address issues before they affect your applications or end-users.
- Optimize your network performance: In addition, measuring network jitter can also help you optimize your network performance by identifying areas where network traffic can be prioritized or network hardware can be upgraded to reduce jitter. This can help ensure that your network is running efficiently and meeting the performance needs of your applications and users.
Ultimately, measuring network jitter is essential for maintaining optimal network performance and delivering a smooth user experience. By monitoring and addressing network jitter, you can minimize disruptions and ensure that your network is operating at its best.
Measuring key metrics like Jitter, along with Packet Loss and Latency, also provide essential data for determining good or poor network performance.
Now that you know how to measure and reduce network jitter, you can keep your network Jitterbug-free and ensure smooth performance for all your time-critical applications. Just like how a skilled Jitterbug dancer knows the importance of timing and rhythm, monitoring and addressing network jitter is crucial for maintaining optimal network performance.
So, whether you're a network administrator or a Jitterbug enthusiast (or both!), don't let jitter slow you down. Keep your network in sync with these tips and Obkio's Network Monitoring tool, and you'll be sure to impress your partners on the dance floor (and in the virtual meeting room)!
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