Quality of Service, or QOS for short, is a feature that allows you to prioritize certain types of traffic over others. This can be extremely important when it comes to gaming and streaming video, for example.

If you’re someone who relies on these activities, then you’ll want to make sure your router has QOS enabled. In this blog post, we will discuss what QOS is and why you should care!

What is QoS?

If you have an important online business meeting and you are getting a lot of buffering because your kids are upstairs streaming Netflix in 4k and playing video games then you need QoS.

These are the type of situations Quality of Service (QoS) aims to solve. 

QoS optimizes your router to identify different types of traffic and prioritize them according to your needs.

You simply set up categories like videoconferencing, gaming, and VoIP calls to take precedence over any other type of traffic. 

In this way, your router will make sure there’s always enough bandwidth available for those activities before allocating it elsewhere.

Only enable QoS on your router if you are confident it will actually improve your network performance; otherwise, it could do more harm than good.

Do You Need QoS?

QoS, or Quality of Service, won’t necessarily offer any improvements if your bandwidth is already sufficient. Furthermore, if QoS isn’t set up correctly, it can actually lead to a performance decline. With that being said,QoS can be quite beneficial if you are facing an issue that it can help resolve. Incorrectly setting up QoS will actually result in a performance degradation.

If you’re having difficulty with choppy voIP quality due to sporadic internet service outages at your location(s), incorporating port-forwarding into your network design for specific devices on the LAN hosting VoIP services may improve call quality and reliability by directing traffic from those ports straight to the Broadband Router/Modem (uplink) without passing through other switches first where packets could potentially become queued or delayed waiting behind others ahead of it destined for different locations on the Internet .

If you have enough bandwidth, there’s no need to use QoS. Here’s an example: You have a 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection that you primarily use for video conferencing. You set up QoS so video calls are prioritized and file downloads are limited to 200 Mbps.

If you’re in a videoconference with multiple users that’s using up 300 Mbps of your bandwidth, and you’re also downloading a 200 GB file at the same time, then out of your 1000 Mbps connection, only 500 Mbps total are being used. Your video call is already utilizing everything it needs; there’s no way to assign more to it just because it doesn’t need it.

Additionally, your file is slower to download due to the fact it can only use 200 Mbps.

Understandably, this makes the process take much longer than necessary. From what we can see, turning on QoS isn’t always the smartest move to make. To use QoS correctly, you must first have a full understanding of how much bandwidth will be required.

Types of QoS

There are three types of QoS:

By device: You can prioritize traffic by the devices on your network.

By application: You can prioritize traffic by the applications being used.

By services: You can prioritize traffic by the type of service being used, such as VoIP or video streaming.

We recommend using QoS by application, as it’s typically the most effective method.

How Does My Router Know What Is What?

Some routers can prioritize traffic by either knowing the device’s IP address or by differentiating between the apps you use.

But how does it know how to differentiate by service? Which is, in fact, one of the most common ways to set up QoS, even in business environments.

Different types of data, like downloads or VOIP calls, travel through the internet using different identification tags called “ports.”

For example, FTP (file transfer protocol) uses ports 20 and 21. E-mail usually goes through port 25, and Internet browsing generally occurs on ports 80 or 443. Your router doesn’t need to know exactly what you’re doing; it will just prioritize traffic from one port over the others.

How to Set Up QoS on Your Router

The specifics of how to set up QoS will vary depending on your router. But in general, the process usually involves these steps:

1. Look for a section in your router’s settings labeled “QoS” or “traffic shaping.”

2. Select the type of QoS you want to use.

3. Choose the devices or applications you want to prioritize.

4. Set rules for how much bandwidth each can use.

5. Save your settings and enjoy your improved internet experience!

QOS Considerations

QoS (Quality of Service) is not a one size fits all solution. 

Priorities, applications, and devices vary from person to person. But here are a few other things to take into account if you are thinking about implementing QoS in your home router:

  • As we learned, QoS aims to improve the performance of devices or applications by prioritizing certain kinds of traffic. However, different types of QoS prioritize different things in different ways.
  • QoS by device is a router option that slows down internet speeds for specific devices when they exceed their bandwidth.While this can be helpful, it may also slow down some devices even when they haven’t reached their full potential.
  • In contrast, QoS by application is more complex. With this method, your router distributes the maximum possible bandwidth to the prioritized app. The amount it assigns changes depending on  the application’s current needs. Therefore, it is called either adaptive or advanced QoS because your router automatically alters how much bandwidth to provide in real-time. Consequently, you always use your full capacity.
  • One important factor that is often overlooked: your router needs to support QoS. Many routers, even affordable ones, have some type of QoS features built-in nowadays. However, this isn’t always the case. There are multiple high-end router models that don’t include any kind of QoS whatsoever.
  • QoS, short for Quality of Service, won’t improve an application’s experience if the bandwidth needed exceeds what your ISP provides. Let’s say your internet only allows for 15 Mbps but an application requires 25 Mbps to function optimally. In this case, no amount of QoS will help because you lack the sufficient bandwidth.
  • If your latency is bad, QoS will do very little to improve the situation.
  • Although it’s not always foolproof, setting up QoS by service is a good way to ensure router-based traffic prioritization. As we discussed previously, your router makes these decisions based on port usage. However, if there is any malicious or unwanted traffic using one of the normally prioritized ports, your router likely won’t be able to tell the difference and will let that type of traffic pass through first.