Response Time

What Does Response Time Mean?

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.


Techopedia Explains Response Time

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.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.