Yes, you might not be happy to hear it but lag switches are genuinely a real thing. Though, you have likely never encountered one. They are not exactly common, even if they were they don’t have that much practical benefit to the average person. If you are not one hundred percent sure what a lag switch is, no worries. This article explains what lag switches are, how they work, and why you don’t need to worry about them.
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What is a Lag Switch?
A lag switch is a piece of equipment that one might install on their home network. The lag switch is designed to cause the server to lag for a brief moment allowing someone to get the upper hand in an online game. There are very few other useful applications for this technology as typically a delay is only going to be seen as a bad thing. After all, when you are gaming have you ever thought to yourself, “oh good some lag”. No, you haven’t. Lag typically means you are dead.
How do they work?
Lag switches work by temporarily disrupting the flow of traffic from the user to the server. This lag tells the server that the user is frozen due to a poor internet connection but doesn’t kick them from the game as the server assumes the user will reconnect soon. This can be a timer set on your home network or a physical switch. Some people even just yank the ethernet cable out for a second and put it back in, though that wouldn’t work as well. They all work the same way, by halting the flow of data for just enough time to gain an edge.
The reason they work so well for gaming is how servers handle lag. Typically, the server will notice you are lagging and freeze your character. In some cases, making it un-targetable (though not always). In the example of an FPS game like CSGO, your character would freeze for a brief moment. While you are frozen on the server, you would still be able to move your character on the client-side. When the flow of data continues the server will update your new character position for everyone else resulting in a sort of jump. This is why you may notice someone blinking from place to place rather than moving there organically.
Why Would Someone Use a Lag Switch?
Blinking from place to place doest sound like it would be overly beneficial until you consider how it appears to everyone else. While you are “frozen” to them you would instead be moving to a new position. When you “unfreeze” they are now aiming at the wrong place and you have now flanked them.
The advantage of being able to move without anyone noticing is a huge benefit for competitive gaming and can essentially win you games. Going back to the example of CSGO where so much of the game is spent peaking around corners to check whether anyone is coming etc.
To everyone else, it may look like you are still behind a wall but in reality, you have already moved out from behind the wall and aimed. By the time they realize you have moved and have them in your sights, boom, it’s too late they are already dead. It still takes some practice to be able to use a lag switch effectively, not that that excuses this dirty behavior.
Are They Commonplace?
No, they aren’t commonplace. Very few players are tragic enough to use them in any kind of competitive gaming. Furthermore, there isn’t even a useful application of them in online gaming.
Going back to a game like CSGO, if you were playing online a lag switch doesn’t change anything. Your positioning is stored and relayed server-side, not client-side. That means when you lag, freeze, move, and unfreeze when you reconnect you just get moved back to where you started.
This is the case for almost every online game in existence to stop cheating like this from taking place. If it is possible to find a workaround in these games, they would simply ban you the same as if you were using an aimbot.
The only time a lag switch would work effectively is if you were playing on a local server that was hosted on your network. But, then everyone else is also connected to that network. If you ran a lag switch set to a timer on your network when hosting a LAN party with your friend, you would all be jumping around the map instead of walking.
If that sounds fun to you, go ahead, otherwise its probably best to forget about installing one of these switches.
What Games am I Most Likely to Encounter Someone Using a Lag Switch on?
If you are a big fan of Call of Duty I hate to tell you that this is a breeding ground for lag switch cheaters. Their servers are notoriously bad for console gamers with very little moderation.
There are several services that you can interestingly pay to help you set up a lag switch on COD. We have all encountered players who manage to go 47-3 every single game, there is likely to be one in almost every game you enter.
This is also the case for games such as Halo, Battlefield, or Gears of War. Don’t worry too much, if you find yourself playing against these players just block them and move on. Just know, they aren’t having fun. It’s like playing against bots on your own. They just want YOU to think they are good, despite the fact if they were good they wouldn’t need a lag switch.
Hopefully, you now have a pretty good idea of how these switches work. Just because you could set one up, doesn’t mean you should. It might look fun, which for a while it likely is, but after one or two games the novelty wears off. Now, you’ve lost the money you spent on the switch and might be looking at a ban. It is better to win the good old fashioned way, by being better than your opponent.