Difference Between Bandwidth vs. Throughput

There are two important terms that most people are confused of and are usually getting interchanged and they are throughput and bandwidth. These two terms might seem similar in many things but there are distinctive differences between them that you will have to put into account to. Through this article, we will explain the differences and explain how to use each term in terms measuring network speed. But, before we go into more in depth details with these two terms, let us first broadly identify them.

Throughput is a term used for the amount of data which could be transferred in a certain amount of time from the host to the recipient.

Bandwidth on the other hand is a term used for network maximum transfer capacity.

Now that we have an overview of what Throughput and Bandwidth are, let us get a little in-depth and closer look at these terminologies.

What is Throughput?

Throughput is a term given to the amount of data which could be received and sent at a time. In other words, it is the measurement of the rate of which when you receive the message or when it successfully arrives. For those who are familiar with packets, to put it simply, it is the average of number of packets that arrives at their destination.

For it to be called high performance, it would mean that all the service packets will have to reach their destination. However, if you are experiencing service packet loss, this would mean that your network will be performing slower.

Throughput is measured through or uses two unit terms called bps which means bits per second and data packets per second.

For those who loves streaming videos and movies, packet loss means you could experience some lags and could cause problems.

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth on the other hand, as mentioned above, is how much data you could send and receive at a certain period of time. The higher your bandwidth is the higher the capacity you have. This does not mean that you will have higher or faster speed. It only measures your capacity. Hence, no matter how big your bandwidth is, you could still have issues with speed, packet loss, jitter, latency and the like.

In other words, without a good performance from your throughput, your bandwidth will not matter even if you have large pipe and your flow is slow or low, your speed performance will still suffer. Hence, if your ISP would say they offer fast speed based on bandwidth, you should question its throughput.

What Tools Could You Use to Measure Throughput?

To measure your network, it is better to use throughput instead of your bandwidth. However, most tools in the market are used to measure bandwidth. Though this is the case, there are still few tools you could use to measure throughput, packet loss, bandwidth and latency and they are the following:

  1. SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer
  2. SolarWinds Network Bandwidth Analyzer
  3. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor

Ways to Optimize Network Bandwidth

  1. Eliminate non-essential traffic
  2. Use cloud-based applications
  3. Perform backups during non-peak hours

How to Optimize Network Throughput

  1. Monitor endpoint usage
  2. Find network bottlenecks and address them through the tools mentioned above.


We hope that through this article, we were able to help you identify the difference between a bandwidth and throughput. With being able to identify these two, we hope you will be able to get the best possible speed and amazing network performance.

Renee Biana

VPN Pick brings you all the latest vpn news, reviews and discounts.

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