What Is A Ping?

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A ping is network administration software that checks whether a machine you wish to connect with is available. It is an acronym for Packet Internet Groper, and is a command issued when your network is having access problems. However, the word ping itself is used to mean acknowledgment of a message through electronic communication.

This command uses the services of the Internet Control Message Protocol, and operates on the network layer of the OSI model.

Important information about a ping

1.    How It Works

When you click your mouse you expect the command to be executed, and you’ll see the result on your device. The time it takes for the result to be seen is known as latency, or ping. Ping is measured in milliseconds. Higher or slow latency means more time, and shows a connection problem. A lower, or fast, latency means less time, showing no problem with connection.

A ping is sent from the command prompt of your operating system, using the IP address or the domain name of the target computer. Four packets of information are sent out from your computer at an interval of one second each. It sends out a data packet and when it receives a data packet in return, via Echo, you are connected.

The results of the ping response are returned to your computer in four different lines, showing:

  • The time in milliseconds between sending the command and receiving a response

  • Summary of packets lost, and the number of network hops

  • Fastest and slowest packet, and the average time. Minimum, maximum and the average time it takes to take to get a response from the host you have pinged

  • Error messages and the IP address of the computer responding

If the target network or computer is unreachable and does not respond to the request, each line of the ping response will read ‘Request Timed out’.  The target’s reason for not responding might be because of the wrong IP/TCP settings, leading to responses such as; Destination Host Unreachable, Ping; Transmission Failed or Ping; Transmission Failed, error code 1234.

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2.    Types Of Ping

Heavy Ping

This type of command is used to determine the impact of using large packets on network performance. It is used to test larger packets, and identify devices along the ping path that have configuration discrepancies. You have to specify larger packets if you want to use them. You can do this by using the ‘l’ key.

Eternal Ping

This ping is used to send continuous ping commands until stopped or paused manually. You set this is by using the ‘t’ key. To stop it, use ‘Ctrl-C’, or pause it by using ‘Ctrl-Break’.

Target Hostname Resolution

This is used to find the hostname of a specified IP address. This is set by using the ‘a’ key. It is very helpful, as it also helps you know if your IP address is correct and show if your DNS is working well.

Vanilla Ping

This command only has two words. The word ping itself, and either the IP address of the target device or its hostname.

Timed Pings

This command is used to give a device more time - in milliseconds - before it times out. It is done using the ‘w’ key. The response from the target device only comes after the specified timeframe.

3.    Factors Affecting Ping

The distance from the server

The further away you are from a server, the higher your ping will be. The closer you are to a server, the lower your ping. A higher ping is more desirable than a lower ping.

Internet connection

Make sure you have a fast internet connection to ensure your ping is low. If your connection is slow your ping will be higher and take longer for your connections and commands to actualize. Have enough Mbs and modems that allow high speed.

Amount of hops

This is dependent on the route the ping has to take. A longer route has more hops than a shorter route, and bearing in mind that the ping has to go to the server and back to your device. Network congestion makes latency higher.

Device Settings

The settings of your device also matter. Check your IP and DNS settings. The problem might be with your device. A cable or switch fault, or a router port problem, may also affect your ping.

4.    Ping responses

Host Unreachable

This simply means there is no route from your device to the device being pinged.

Request Timed Out

The default time to receiving the echo messages back from the host is set at one minute. When the response request is timed out it just means the time set for a response is expired, and there was no response. This can be due to various reasons.

Unknown Host/could not find Host

The host name you typed in might not exist on the internet. It could be you simply misspelled the host name while typing. Check your spelling and try again.

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5.    The importance of Ping

  • A ping tells you about latency, which is the time taken for a packet of data to move from your device, to the server, and back to your device. When this happens fast, time is saved.

  • Troubleshoot connection problems. Ping can let you know where the connection problem is. Whether the other device is unreachable, or if the problem is in your device settings.

  • Expose network malfunctions, such as hardware that keeps dropping packets. It could be that fragmentation is needed, communication is administratively prohibited, precedence cut off or there is a violation of precedence. These will be shown using letters.

  • It is used by website owners to notify different search engines there is a new website that can be viewed. It is an internet marketing strategy. A site that is pinged has its backlinks indexed.

  • It is important in gaming where a player needs to be fast in order to win over an opponent. Due to ping, a player might seem slow as their PC now communicates slowly to the server, and may lead to losing a game.

  • Data expenses. Ping can dictate how much of your data you use on a search. When your pages take longer than normal to open it means your bundles are being used up unnecessarily. When ping is low, data expenses will be normal.

6.    Command availability

Ping is available on Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 98, Windows 95 and Linux. It can also be available on System Recovery Options and Advanced Startup Options. It is preinstalled on every modern operating system.

The ping command may be different on different operating systems.


Ping deals with connecting a device to another, or to a server, for communication and carrying out commands. It is an important tool in the network, and ensures efficiency while connecting to the internet. When you cannot seem to load that page you want to open, or your applications keep slowing down, or your device keys take longer than normal to execute your commands, your problem could be ping oriented.

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