What Is a Lag Switch?

Homemade lag switch
Alex Mickla / Flickr

A lag switch is a piece of equipment installed on a home network that allows you to insert delays into the flow of local traffic to the Internet. Lag switches are normally used by unscrupulous players wanting to cheat at online video games. Lag switches are unrelated to normal network switches.

Design of a Lag Switch

The basic lag switch design is a small Ethernet device where either the orange or green wire of a CAT5 cable has been spliced to a push button or other physical switch.

This hardware is connected between the game device (typically a PC or console) and the home network router (or broadband modem if no router exists).

Operation of a Lag Switch

When a lag switch is activated, the device runs for a few seconds on a timer, effectively blocking all network traffic between the local game device and the Internet for that temporary period. The device causes the person using a lag switch to appear to their opponents as frozen while, in fact, they are still able to locally make moves to gain advantages in the game. When the lag switch timer expires, the local game device will re-synchronize with the online game, which appears to opponents in a sudden burst.

Sportsmanlike online gamers do not use lag switches.

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