A network engineer spotted some packet loss averaging 4 packets in 1000 then some body tried to use that as a cause for a performance issue. Is this a realistic assumption that that sought of loss can cause application performance issues.

  • 1
    Less than 1% shouldn't really be causing issues in an application. Is your application UDP or TCP? If its TCP, your app should just be resending the lost packets.
    – HAL
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 13:47
  • Packets are dropped all the time, even on purpose, by the network. Protocols above the packet level (layer-3), deal with this (TCP or application), or not (UDP), as necessary. A common congestion control mechanism on routers is to randomly drop packets in queues in order to prevent the queues from filling up. TCP will deal with this by slowing down.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 14:06
  • Did any answer help you? If so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you could provide and accept your own answer.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


0.4% packet loss is quite high on an internal network. Packet loss will definitely affect performance, but the effects are also dependent on RTT.

The Mathis Equation describes the maximum TCP theoretical throughput for a given RTT and Loss Rate:

MaxRate < (MSS/RTT)*(1 / sqrt(p))

Where p is the probability of packet loss.

For example, with a RTT of 50mS and a probability of 1E-4, you couldn't go faster than 230Mb (assuming an MSS of 1450).

Here's a short explanation.


(Assuming TCP over public WAN)

Yes - your equipment is taking a performance hit when packets get dropped because data packets are being resent in response to the ones that got dropped.


A 0.4% packet loss rounds to zero for a reason. It's not bad for internet traffic quite honestly and many professional network engineers might even say it's an acceptable drop rate for a wired internal network. My opinion is that if you were able to instantly correct the problem and then use the application in a state of zero packet loss, it would be next to impossible to tell a difference.

  • 1
    4 in 1000 is 0.4%.
    – Ron Trunk
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 15:53

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