Five steps to reducing lag in online games

Five helpful tips to save you from video game lag.

GamePro provides five helpful tips to save you from video game lag.

Tired of pulling a trigger in Call of Duty: World at War, then watching your gun fire five seconds later? Sick of adrenaline-fueled Halo 3 matches playing out like slide-shows? Well, the GamePro editors have five secret tips to help you reduce or eliminate lag, and make online gaming more stable and enjoyable.

Without further ado, here are five proven ways to fix a laggy game experience!

1. Shut down all PC downloads and sharing apps.

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File-sharing programs such as BitTorrent are infamous for eating up bandwidth, and will guarantee you a choppy online gaming experience on your game system. Big downloads, such as Apple Store TV shows or movies, will also slow down your online game. If you're playing online, try to limit any PC internet use beyond simple web browsing or e-mail.

2. Cable internet beats DSL every single time.

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There's a reason a DSL connection costs less than cable internet: it's slower and less stable. In fact, some industry groups have recommended stripping DSL of its "broadband" label because it can only handle a fraction of the speed of a cable connection. DSL is fine for speedy web browsing, but cable reigns supreme for online gaming. Cable internet is also relatively inexpensive if you're already a cable TV subscriber - ask your provider for package deals.

3. With Wi-Fi, placement is everything.

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Your wireless Wi-Fi router has a limited range, and consoles can be pretty picky about that signal (especially if the Wi-Fi has to go through a wall). Try to place your console close to your router to get the best results. If you're still seeing a strong signal, yet experiencing lag, try changing your game system's location in the room, or flipping it horizontally or vertically.

4. Hardwire it!

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Though wireless Wi-Fi is more convenient, a hardwired Ethernet connection is unbeatable for online gaming - it's faster and more reliable. The downside: an ugly cable that leads from your internet router to your game system. If your cable or DSL jack is located close to your entertainment system, you'll definitely want to use an Ethernet cable for maximum performance. Even if the internet jack is located far away, you may consider running the Ethernet cable under the carpet, along a wall, or under floorboards to conceal it.

5. Choose top-quality internet hardware.

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Don't expect top-level gaming performance from that cheap internet router you bought at CostCo. Instead, spend a little more and get a quality router from a trusted manufacturer such as Linksys or DLink. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo also have preferred hardware that is guaranteed to function perfectly on their systems - that information is available on their websites.

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