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Response time, in the context of computer technology, is the elapsed time between an inquiry on a system and the response to that inquiry. Used as a measurement of system performance, response time may refer to service requests in a variety of technologies. Low response times may be critical to successful computing.
Accounting for time demands made on a computer system can take many different forms. In computer networking, for instance, response times between two systems can be measured and viewed using such commands as ping or traceroute (“tracert” from the Windows command prompt). These diagnostic tools make use of the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP).
Many people use the terms "response time" and "latency" interchangeably. However, latency has more to do with the time delay between a particular cause and effect. Response time deals with the total time between a request for service and the fulfillment of that request. While some nuances exist in attempting to define the term, response time is generally a sum of the service time and the wait time required to process the request.
Response time is a factor in many different computing technologies, including disk I/O, database queries, memory handling and loading web pages. Monitor response time measures how quickly pixels change from black to white or to a different shade of grey. Quick monitor response times are important for gaming.
Computer processes may depend on queues, which determine how or when a request for service is handled. The queuing process may have a significant influence on the response time.