With so many daily operations relying on technology, even minor network performance issues can have a huge impact on your organization's productivity, profits, and customer satisfaction. In 2023, 91% of global businesses experienced at least one outage quarterly.1 And with over two-thirds of all outages costing more than $100,000,2 measuring and monitoring network performance should be a top priority for organizations of all sizes.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the fundamentals of network performance monitoring, key network performance metrics to pay attention to, and what your business can do to optimize network performance.

What Are Network Metrics?

Network metrics are quantitative measurements used to evaluate a network's speed, reliability, efficiency, and overall health. By collecting and analyzing metrics like bandwidth, latency, data packet loss, and uptime, IT teams can gain crucial insights into network performance problems.

These metrics act as numerical vital signs, indicating when networks are functioning normally and when potential issues arise. Just as a doctor reviews a patient's vital statistics like heart rate and blood pressure, network admins use metrics to diagnose problems and determine where improvements need to be made.

Monitoring key network metrics provides three main benefits for businesses:

  • Visibility - Metrics uncover network behavior and utilization, enabling IT teams to see what's happening in their network infrastructure.
  • Diagnostics - Unusual patterns or thresholds in metrics can indicate underlying network issues. Metrics help pinpoint exactly where problems originate.
  • Optimization - By establishing network performance baselines and tracking metrics over time, teams can fine-tune for peak efficiency.


Why Are Network Performance Metrics Important?

Here are some reasons why it's important for businesses to measure network performance metrics:

Maintain Business Continuity

By closely following network performance metrics, IT teams can detect issues early before they snowball into outages. This prevents disruptions to business-critical processes and applications.

Enhance End-User Experience

Employees and customers expect fast, reliable network connections. 51% of employees say slow speeds are their biggest workplace technology complaint.3 Network performance monitoring metrics help ensure applications run smoothly, downloads are fast, and connections are stable.

Optimized Network Investments

Metrics analysis determines where network infrastructure needs improvement so IT staff can strategically invest in solutions that address identified weak spots.

Service Level Agreement Compliance

SLAs can include metrics like uptime, latency, or data packet loss thresholds. Measuring network performance metrics helps verify IT services meet commitments.

Rapid Problem Isolation

Around 60% of end users say they have technical issues the IT service desk can’t fix.4 Network performance metrics pinpoint where and when problems occur, cutting down on lengthy network troubleshooting and ensuring services get back up faster.

Capacity Planning

Historical network performance data forecasts future infrastructure needs as network demands increase, assisting capacity planning to support business growth.

What Is Network Monitoring?

Network monitoring is the process of collecting, reviewing, and analyzing data about a network's performance and health. It provides visibility and diagnostics insights to help network administrators proactively detect and troubleshoot performance issues.

There are a few different types of network monitoring IT teams can leverage, including:

Performance Monitoring

Performance monitoring evaluates networks from an end-user perspective. These solutions enable network teams to measure network performance metrics like bandwidth, latency, and data packet loss to verify networks meet QoS and SLA requirements.

Fault Monitoring

Fault monitoring detects, tracks, and alerts when network devices and components fail, which helps restore services promptly before outages can impact users.

Security Monitoring

Security monitoring safeguards networks against cyber threats like malware, intrusions, and data breaches by analyzing network traffic patterns and system logs.

Configuration Monitoring

Configuration monitoring ensures network devices and systems are set up correctly, preventing misconfigurations from causing network performance issues or outages.

Log Monitoring

Abnormal activity in logs can signify problems. Log monitoring involves collecting and analyzing event logs and SNMP traps for visibility into network device operations.


What Is Network Performance?

Network performance refers to the overall speed, reliability, and efficiency of a network as perceived by end users. It determines a network's capability to handle usage demands and sustain quality of service.

Several factors shape network performance, including:

Network Analysis and Review

Compiling performance data like response times, bandwidth usage, and uptime metrics enables historical analysis. The comparison identifies trends and deviations from normal operations.

Network Performance Measurement

Actively monitoring throughput, latency, and other KPIs verifies that networks meet quantitative benchmarks for optimal performance.

End-User Experience

The end-user experience ultimately defines network performance. Monitoring network traffic and infrastructure health ensures users have responsive, consistent connectivity.

While components like routers, switches, and servers enable networks to function, network performance isn't about individual devices. Instead, it encompasses the overall ability to deliver applications and services to users with adequate speed and scalability.

How Can Businesses Measure Network Performance?

In order to measure network performance effectively, businesses need network monitoring tools that provide:

  • Network Visibility - Gain insight into all infrastructure and network traffic flows for accurate performance assessment.
  • Metrics Collection - Collecting network performance metrics across the infrastructure forms baselines to distinguish normal vs. suboptimal operations.
  • Analytics and Reporting - Analytics and reporting tools interpret network performance trends and drill down to specifics.
  • Alerting - Trigger alerts when network performance metrics veer from baseline thresholds to ensure IT teams can address issues proactively.
  • User Experience Simulation - With network performance metrics, IT staff can emulate user traffic to measure quality as end users see it.

These capabilities deliver the visibility and diagnostic capabilities needed to measure network performance, allowing network administrators to pinpoint developing issues and make data-driven decisions to optimize network architecture.


12 Essential Network Performance Metrics to Monitor

Many network performance metrics provide insight into performance and health. Focusing on a select few core metrics prevents data overload while still equipping IT with what's needed to understand network operations, identify abnormal behavior, and make improvements.

Here are 12 key network performance metrics to guide your IT teams:

1. Latency

Latency, the time it takes for traffic data to get from point A to point B across a network, must be monitored because it directly impacts user experience. Consistently high latency leads to delays, lag, and buffering issues that result in network performance degradation. Tracking latency metrics helps set network performance baselines and reveal abnormal patterns. IT can then troubleshoot the root cause before latency disrupts critical apps.

2. Packet Loss

Packet loss occurs when network data packets fail to reach their intended destination. Just a small percentage of packet loss can seriously affect network efficiency. Packet loss forces data packets to be retransmitted, slowing overall network performance. Monitoring packet loss helps identify congested network segments, faulty devices, and configuration issues. It enables IT teams to address the sources of packet loss and maintain reliable data transmission across the infrastructure.

3. Network Jitter

Jitter refers to inconsistent packet transfer times over a network, resulting in increased or uneven latency. It can cause significant performance issues – including choppy audio, video buffering, and poor call quality – for real-time services like video conferencing that depend on steady packet delivery. By tracking network jitter metrics, IT teams can determine the severity of fluctuation and troubleshoot the root causes, such as configuration errors or network congestion.

4. Bandwidth Utilization

Tracking network bandwidth usage indicates the percentage of total bandwidth currently being consumed on a network. Spikes in network bandwidth usage can create congestion and slow traffic, but IT teams can set utilization thresholds and add capacity as needed. Monitoring available bandwidth also helps balance traffic across different network segments to use resources more efficiently.

5. Network Availability

Uptime metrics measure the percentage of time that network services and resources are accessible and operational for users. High network availability is essential for organizations delivering cloud services, online retail, banking systems, or other 24/7 operations. Comparing uptime to service level agreement (SLA) targets verifies networks meet mandated availability requirements.

6. Round-Trip Time (RTT)

Round-trip time (RTT) measures the total delay for a network request to make a complete round trip from sender to receiver and back. High round-trip time indicates potential issues like network congestion that are introducing delays. Monitoring round-trip time helps diagnose the root causes of latency and ensures networks have acceptable response times, which is critical for applications like VoIP and video conferencing.

7. Network Error Rate

Network error rate gauges the percentage of total data packets that contain errors or are corrupted during data transmission. Tracking network error rates helps identify issues like hardware failures, signal interference, or software bugs that are introducing errors into data packets, necessitating retransmissions and impacting performance.


8. Packet Loss Rate

The data packet loss rate measures the percentage of data packets lost during transmission over a specific timeframe. A high rate of lost data packets directly degrades network performance and must be minimized. Monitoring data packet loss rate helps determine if parts of the network suffer from chronic packet loss due to errors or congestion.

9. Data Transfer Rate

The data transfer rate, also known as network throughput, measures the rate of successful data transmission across a network. Slower than expected data transfer rates can indicate problems like network congestion, packet loss, overloaded servers, or other bottlenecks constraining network capacity. Monitoring data transmission speed helps compare network performance against bandwidth limits and identify scenarios where networks are operating below optimal speeds.

10. Mean Opinion Score (MOS)

MOS provides a numerical rating of call quality for audio transmissions over IP networks. It's typically used to measure VoIP call quality based on how end users would perceive it. Monitoring MOS helps ensure VoIP systems meet minimum standards for call clarity and reliability.

11. Network Congestion

Keeping congestion low is essential for avoiding network performance issues that frustrate end users. Network congestion happens when traffic volume exceeds available capacity, resulting in slowed network performance and lost data packets. Monitoring congestion levels helps IT teams visualize traffic patterns and utilization across different network segments. Identifying areas prone to high congestion enables implementing targeted fixes such as adding bandwidth, adjusting QoS settings, or load balancing to alleviate the strain on overloaded links and minimize future downtime.

12. TCP Retransmission Rate

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) retransmission rate measures the percentage of TCP segments that had to be re-sent due to issues like network congestion or data packet loss. The Transmission Control Protocol ensures reliable data transfer by retransmitting lost data packets. However, high TCP retransmission rates can indicate underlying network problems that should be addressed. Monitoring this metric helps identify congestion, data packet loss, and other connectivity issues that are forcing TCP retransmissions.

Elevate Your Network Performance Monitoring With Tailwind

High-performing networks are essential for maintaining business services, keeping users connected, and enabling company growth in today's digitally driven world. However, increasingly complex network architecture can make it difficult for organizations to monitor network performance effectively, resulting in issues that frustrate employees and customers alike.

TailWind's complete NOCaaS solution provides ongoing support from our U.S.-based team of experts who oversee your business's network performance and troubleshoot issues. Plus, we offer a proactive network performance monitoring system via SolarWinds® customized to fit your processes so you gain 24/7 insight and expertise to optimize your network.

SolarWinds® network performance monitoring tools offer:

  • End-to-end visibility across your network
  • A clear view of performance metrics for troubleshooting
  • Detailed metrics analysis to identify root causes
  • Intelligent alerts for faster responses
  • Wired and wireless device monitoring

Our NOC specialists can partner with your IT teams to assess your infrastructure, implement the right network monitoring tools, and help manage networks seamlessly – so you can focus on meeting critical business goals. Reach out to TailWind today to discuss how our NOCaaS solution can elevate your network performance.


  1. https://www.digi.com/company/press-releases/2023/only-9-percent-of-organizations-avoid-outages
  2. https://uptimeinstitute.com/resources/research-and-reports/annual-outage-analysis-2023
  3. https://venturebeat.com/enterprise-analytics/report-91-of-employees-say-theyre-frustrated-with-workplace-tech
  4. https://www.forrester.com/blogs/despite-it-heroics-technology-is-systematically-failing-employees