A lag switch is a piece of equipment that momentarily slows the flow of traffic to the internet mounted on a home network. The physical toggle can be turned on in an online gaming sense to delay gameplay to give the upper hand to the lag switcher.
If the opponent bounces around on the screen as you fire at the player, one example that means a lag switch is being used. Or maybe, from point-blank shots, the character appears invisible and totally unscathed.
It runs on a short-timer when a lag switch is triggered, which normally lasts a few seconds. It effectively blocks all network traffic between the gaming laptop or console and the internet during this period.
Since the game admits the internet of the user is down, the player appears to be paused and unresponsive. The game doesn't throw the user out, however, because it assumes that the link will restart soon. The user will, however, can play locally during this time.
The local computer re-syncs with the online game when the lag turn timer expires, which appears to opponents in a sudden burst.
A small Ethernet system where either the orange or green wire of a CAT5 cable has been spliced onto a push button or other physical switch is the simple hardware lag switch.
This system is connected from the home network router to the game device (typically a PC or console).
Some video game consoles have a built-in detector to detect lag switches in hardware through a voltage indicator that knows when the switch has been flipped. There are other ways, however, to simulate an Internet connection failure that functions just like a physical lag switch.
Unplugging the network cable for a few seconds, for instance, disrupts the traffic flow to the extent where the game does not synchronize with the internet. It is an innocent way to lag without using a lag switch, just like using a lag switch, removing the Ethernet cable long enough, and then re-attaching it.
Software-based lag switches are also available that use a program to overload the local network with so much information that the bandwidth is almost used up. This is close to the Ethernet cable is disconnected or a lag switch is toggled. It can't be used for too long, though or the game will presume that the player is not coming back and will disconnect them from the game.
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