How to Reduce Lag in Online Games

By Melissa King

Updated September 22, 2017

Internet speed and computer hardware affect online game performance.
i Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Few things frustrate and annoy online gamers more than game slowdown, freezing and lag. When you play an online game, you want it to run smoothly, but lag makes your game slow to a crawl, and can even result in you losing a match. Lag has many possible causes, including outdated computer hardware, slow Internet speed or a poor wireless signal.

Stop all downloads and file sharing apps before starting an online game. Close as many programs as possible for an extra speed boost.

Move your wireless router as close to your computer or game console as you can. Your Internet speed suffers if the wireless signal has to travel through a wall or other obstruction.

Connect your console or computer directly to the router with an Ethernet cable, if possible, for the best connection speed.

Ensure that your computer's hardware meets the minimum recommended specifications for the game you want to play, as outdated hardware can lead to lag. Visit a website, such as Can You Run It?, to quickly determine your machine's compatibility with a game (link in Resources).

Defragment your computer's hard drive regularly. Open the Start menu, type "defrag" into the search field, then click "Disk Defragmenter" and "Defragment Disk" to start the process.

Add your game as an exception on your computer's firewall. Some firewalls block or put restrictions on games, causing lag.


Upgrade to cable Internet if you have DSL. Cable Internet is faster and more reliable than DSL for gaming.