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I've recently seen something on Fortnite: Battle Royale, and other games. They're called packets, and I have honestly no idea what they are. It'll say something like:

Packets: 12
Packet Loss: 0%;

Also, should I be worried about anything if I lose packets? Thanks!

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    @Ben It is inside a game, and if I have no idea what it means, it is technically in the right place – WillWam Apr 29 '18 at 22:43
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    If you're seeing it in more than one game, it's a pretty good indicator that it's not specific to any single specific game. If it was only used in games, sure, no problem at all. But since it's not, there's isn't much for gaming expertise here, if anything at all. – Frank Apr 29 '18 at 23:16
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    @Ben It's perfectly on topic. It's technical terminology and it affects gameplay (high packet loss = bad lag), so it's something gamers will want to know about and thus deserves a mention here. – Pharap Apr 30 '18 at 0:55
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    @Frank When did that change? We've got questions on ping, 8-vs-16-bit, bugs/glitches, pixel shaders, and RTCs, all well received. – user149305 Apr 30 '18 at 1:24
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    @Frank "packet loss" doesn't require heavy 'network engineering' levels of understanding, it's something gamers are expected to be familiar with. Also, the question isn't "how do packets work", it's "what does packet loss mean?", i.e. "I am a gamer, how does packet loss affect me? Should I care? Why should I care?". Gamers should care, it affects gameplay – Pharap Apr 30 '18 at 12:10
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This is referring to your internet connectivity.

Information is sent over your network in little segments, or "packets".

In this particular instance, this is a test to check the integrity of your connectivity. It sent 12 packets, and all 12 packets were received, meaning that there was 0% loss - therefore no issues with your internet.

To get a little more technical, this process is used to test the integrity of your internet connectivity to ensure that your inputs from your PC are received on the game server. The way this is done is through the use of TCP/UDP (by default, UDP being the standard) to send the information from your PC (Your IP Address) to the Server and back again.

While things such as Internet speed and Bandwidth can affect your ability to play (low speeds or bandwidth can cause latency - a delay between the send/receive) Packet loss is different. Packet loss is whether or not the information you sent is received by the server, and vice versa.

A good analogy of this is a freeway. Imagine lots of cars travelling back and forth on a freeway. Each of these cars represents a "packet". This freeway is the Internet. When you connect to the internet, you create an entrance/exit to the freeway.

When you download things, or receive information from a server, these cars will turn off the freeway to your exit. If each car represents, say 250MB (in reality they can't be bigger than 65,507 bytes), and you download 1GB of information, then 4 cars will turn off, each reaching you one after the other. The potential that sometimes, due to multiple downloads and uploads happening, this can confuse the instructions, or some cars may simply just "fall off", due to communication errors.

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    To elaborate on this, seeing a few packets get missed isn't the end of the world either. A well written protocol is built to be resilient against that sort of thing. – Shadow Apr 30 '18 at 6:15
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    You will often see this in OBS when you are streaming. – Doggo Apr 30 '18 at 7:23
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    You say TCP is the standard. While that's true for general applications, for games UDP is the standard and has been since QuakeWorld started using it in the late 90s. TCP's error recovery features add far too much overhead for the packet rates games tend to use. – Powerlord Jul 13 '18 at 20:53
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@Ben's answer is correct. I'd like to explain how packet loss occurs and how it affects you.

When two computers communicate, they essentially send "packets" to each other. Sometimes, a packet never reaches its intended recipient. That's a "packet loss".

Packet losses can happen when the line between both computers is damaged, or when any of the devices between the two is overloaded, such as when there is too much traffic and the router has to ignore a packet or two.

How does it affect me?

If you're streaming, packet loss can manifest in a loss of quality. Missing packets means missing information, which can cause frame skips, audio skips, or glitches in the video.

Not all streaming services are affected by the above loss of quality. If you experience packet loss on YouTube, it's much more likely that your browser will say "I didn't get that package", and the server will simply resend the packet. Which leads us to the next point:

Packet loss usually affects connection speeds. Ideally, your PC sends a packet, and receives a packet in return. When a packet is lost, it has to be resent. Imagine if two people are talking, and one asks: "what did you say?" Obviously, the other party has to repeat himself. As long as it doesn't happen often, all is well. If it does happen often, however, the communication speed could slow to a crawl.

Packet loss is especially bad if your ping is high. A high ping means it takes longer for your packet to reach the intended destination, and for a response packet to come back to you. If you have a ping of 1000 milliseconds (1 second), each packet loss means you have to wait 1 additional second for the response packet to arrive. With a ping of 100 milliseconds, you could afford 10 packet losses in a row for the same effect.

In a game like Fortnite, a packet loss usually causes lags due to a sudden increase in ping. Even if the game doesn't request for the packet to be resent, it still has to send a new packet and wait for a new response.

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    Packet loss does not affect connection speeds. Packet loss is caused by the protocol you are using (TCP/UDP) and any packet loss is simply caused by the integrity of said protocol in your network – Ben Apr 30 '18 at 23:02

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