Comparing Throughput vs. Bandwidth (Optimization Methods)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 14, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies measure throughput and bandwidth to identify the speed of networks. IT professionals use this information to review company networks and the networks of clients. By knowing more about throughput and bandwidth, you can optimize a company's networks. In this article, we compare throughput vs. bandwidth, review the differences between throughput and bandwidth, learn how to optimize throughput, and explore how to improve bandwidth.

Comparing throughput vs. bandwidth

If you want to improve a company's networks, you can benefit from comparing throughput vs. bandwidth. Throughput, also known as data transfer rate, refers to the amount of information travelling across networks from a primary source to a secondary source over a specific period. The data transfer rate also considers the data packets and messages that reach the recipient or destination. These unit measurements calculate the bits per second (bps) or the data packets per second (pps). When professionals measure throughput, they can assess, troubleshoot, and improve network performance, which helps professionals identify slow performance.

Bandwidth differs from throughput because it measures the potential or capacity of a network. Bandwidth assesses how much data can travel from one source to a final destination within a specific period. Rather than measuring the true rates of the data packets to arrive at their final destination, bandwidth provides a measurement for the rate at which networks might transfer data packets to their recipients. This measurement occurs in bits per second (bps) and gigabits per second (Gbps).

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Differences between bandwidth and throughput

Bandwidth considers the capacity for a network's throughput at its peak performance levels and the potential throughput that the bandwidth can handle. Here's a list of the differences between throughput and bandwidth:


The primary purpose of throughput is to measure data, while the purpose of bandwidth is to determine the capacity of a network. This is important because if you want to obtain information about the potential of networks, it's beneficial to assess the capacity. If you want to obtain information about the network's real-time data, you can measure the throughput.

Relation to actual data transmission

While both throughput and bandwidth use bits per second as a unit of measurement, throughput is a practical metric, measuring actual packet delivery, while bandwidth is a theoretical metric, measuring potential packet delivery. Speed refers to a distance travelled over time, and the transmission speed of a network considers the distance data travels per second. IT professionals use the terms speed, throughput, and data transfer rate when measuring the speed of data. They also use latency when calculating the time required for data packets to reach their final destination.

When calculating throughput, a high throughput typically shows that a network is high-speed and suggests that consumers receive large amounts of data quickly. High bandwidth enables networks to be high-speed and allows networks to transfer large amounts of data simultaneously. Here's a list of concepts related to bandwidth and throughput:

  • Latency: If data has high latency, this indicates that data requires a significant amount of time to travel to its final destination. A low latency indicates that data has a high speed and requires a short amount of time to travel across networks.

  • Speed: It refers to the distance the data travels over time. The common unit for this speed is a meter per second or a mile per hour.

How to optimize throughput

Here's a step-by-step guide for those who want to optimize throughput:

1. Acquire data

If you want to optimize throughput, the first step requires the collection of data from a network. You can use software applications to measure your selected networks over a period. It's also beneficial to review the throughput of networks during slow periods. Getting this information provides you with data about the network performance and allows you to implement strategies for improving network design and overall functionality.

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2. Identify obstacles

When you review throughput rates, you can then identify the potential causes of obstacles. Here are some reasons for issues regarding throughput rates:

Network latency

Throughput rates can experience obstacles from network latency because it requires more time for data to travel across a network. You can either measure this data as two-way travels between a source and a final destination, or a one-way data transfer time. For users, a high latency rate suggests that there are large periods of waiting for responses after they make requests. Low rates of latency are ideal and lead to high user satisfaction. Reducing latency is essential if you want to optimize the throughput.

Packet loss

Packet loss is the failure of data packets to reach their destination. This issue is most common for programs that depend on real-time packet processing, like video, audio, and gaming applications. For example, packet loss can cause the audio of a voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) to skip. It leads to slow service, disruptions to connection, and even complete loss of network connectivity. The causes of packet loss include congestion and software bugs.

Networks can also experience jitter, which refers to delays in the sending of data packets across networks, usually caused by congestion or route changes. This causes lags or glitches for users trying to access applications. Jitter can cause issues with VoIP, making it difficult to speak and hear clearly on the call.

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3. Address the issues

One of the most common causes of high latency is network bottlenecks. This refers to traffic congestion, the phenomenon when too many people are trying to use a network simultaneously. For instance, this can be common after lunch when employees return to their work. Network speed can be even slower if many people are trying to download files or using complex applications. You can minimize lags by addressing these bottlenecks directly. Try upgrading the company's routers or switches to handle high traffic amounts.

You can also reduce the number of nodes that the network uses, so packets have shorter distances to travel. Typically, the more network devices data can travel through, the longer it takes for the data to reach its destination. This is because each device introduces a slight delay, as it can copy data arriving in one port to another, outgoing port. By reducing these devices, you may enable data to reach its destination faster. Here are some other ways to reduce latency and solve various throughput issues:

  • Review endpoint usage: Some team members can cause latency by using non-work-related applications.

  • Use an Ethernet cable: This can reduce latency and packet loss.

  • Restart the network: This can help eliminate software bugs.

  • Close extra applications: Certain programs are especially bandwidth-intensive.

  • Disable firewalls: Firewalls may cause high traffic levels.

  • Upgrade the hardware: Consider buying updated routers and switches.

  • Communicate with the internet service provider: The problem may be on their end.

How to optimize bandwidth

Here's a guide for IT professionals who want to optimize bandwidth:

1. Adjust the quality of service settings

The quality of service settings for bandwidth optimization refers to instructions that allow you to convey information to the router. You can also adjust these to help ensure that the network considers the different types of data and traffic. This allows high-maintenance applications to have enough bandwidth to perform well.

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2. Consider using cloud-based applications

It's beneficial to think about the types of cloud-based applications companies use to navigate large data sets. Companies can also outsource traffic to third-party companies to reduce the overall pressure of networks and to increase both speed and performance. They also obtain benefits like data security.

3. Eliminate nonessential traffic

It's beneficial to consider eliminating any traffic that the company considers nonessential during the company's business hours. For example, you can reduce traffic on video applications and the company's streaming services. These programs require large amounts of data and bandwidth, which provides limited space for the company's software. You can also encourage team members to use the bandwidth for essential operations.

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4. Organize the timing of the backups and updates

Companies use backups, updates, and similar activities that contribute to a significant amount of bandwidth used and can develop a network performance that is low. This can also cause some functions to close. It's critical to conduct these software repairs and other maintenance actions outside of regular business hours. Employees can benefit from the full capacity of applications when they need them at work.

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