Bufferbloat, what is it

During the installation and configuration of OpenWrt, I came across a concept called Bufferbloat read on for an intro to what it is.

Bufferbloat, definition:

Bufferbloat is a software issue with networking equipment that causes spikes in your Internet connection’s latency when a device on the network uploads or downloads files.

Taken from: https://www.waveform.com/tools/bufferbloat

Yes, I HIGHLY recommend you run their test above to see how your network setup stacks up.

To be honest, a better explanation of what it is would be:

Extra latency when there is download/upload load on your network

Quality Of Service

Smart Queue Management

I like the explanation on the OpenWrt docs:

Bufferbloat is most evident when the link is heavily loaded. It causes bad performance for voice and video chat, online games to lag, and generally makes people say, “The Internet is not responsive today.”

Taken from: https://openwrt.org/docs/guide-user/network/traffic-shaping/sqm

Well, for you it could mean random latency spikes when you’re doing some online gaming, random hitches when in an online conference etc.

To give you an example that I had to deal with I will use an online gaming example.

I play Valorant, nearly daily, 2-3 games in the evening. Let’s say that my kids are streaming shows on 2-3 devices and the wife, and I are in a lobby halfway through a match in Valorant. Then there is a big old update for a game on the PS5; let’s say a 20 GB update for Spiderman🤷‍♂️

When that download begins it takes up most of the bandwidth I have coming to my house for the next 20-30 minutes. During that time when the PS5 ramps up to near max connection speed, our gaming sessions could see massive spikes in latency & even packet loss whilst it is downloading.

Yes, this happened after installing OpenWrt and leaving stock we had this issue occur. Research into Bufferbloat, QoS, and SQM came after.

I will be publishing my Bufferbloat results and implementations in an upcoming post on this blog. Follow Twitter for when released.

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