There is no doubt that at some point, you have heard the term ‘ping‘ and most likely wondered what it means. Besides having a fun and silly name, pinging has a valuable role to play in day-to-day web maintenance and proper site upkeep. The best laymen description of pinging is that it serves as a means of communication for two different computers or servers, relaying information to each and determining if the other computer or server is online and working properly. For those who want to check system status, speed and network compatibility, pinging is a needed part of everyday operations.
The More Elaborate Description
Any two computers, servers or domains have the ability to communicate with one another over the internet. When conducting a ping test, one computer will send a message (or packet) to the desired recipient host to see whether or not the machine is online, functioning and capable of receiving data. If the host machine is functioning properly, it will then relay an identical message back to the sender. In this information, data such as the speed (latency) of the communication will also be provided if the ping test was successful. This information can then be used to determine how quickly the host server is operating and whether or not data is flowing to and from the host properly.
Should I Use A Ping Test?
After learning what is pinging and what information it provides, you may be asking if it should be used for a specific purpose you have in mind. Most home computers that operate on Windows, Linux or Mac have pinging tools built-in to the operating systems, making it easier for anyone to check the status of any host. There are a number of websites that offer these services free of charge and can be used from anywhere in the world – including mobile phones. Many people use ping tests to determine whether a server for a game they are playing is working properly or to see if a specific website or server is currently offline.
What Results Should I Expect?
While ping test results can vary widely depending on whether the server is online or offline, there is a range of latency that can be expected if a server or computer is functioning properly. If you are using regular broadband internet, a good connection will be indicated by a latency of less than 100ms. In optimal cases, latency can drop below 50ms. For those using satellite internet, latency will often be many times higher. The unit of measurement when it comes to speed is milliseconds, with a result like 500ms indicating that the response time between two machines is one half of a second.
If your ping test does not go through successfully, it may be for a number of reasons. If the internet is down or inaccessible at the recipient host’s address, then the ping will not be successful. Likewise, a disconnected network cable can cause the same problem. Speed issues are often caused by the host recipient, but can also be due to your own internet connection or networking issues. If everything is fine on your end, it most likely then is a problem outside of your control.