What is Ping? Understanding and Testing Your Ping

Slow Internet speeds can become a serious problem for online users. They disrupt your activities, make it impossible to connect online, and are generally bothersome. While it’s possible slow speeds and annoying disruptions are coming from a specific site or from your WiFi connection, it’s worth understanding what ping is so you can use the ping command to check your ping and further investigate the issue.

What is the ping command?

The ping command is a standard command line request for most networks. It sends a signal to a host server to check for two things: if the host is available, and, if so, how long the response takes. Response times are important because they indicate the reliability of the Internet connection between your server and websites, as well as upload speeds and download speeds for your server. Essentially, the commands see how your network performs.

How does the ping command work?

The ping command works through use of Internet Control Message Protocol Echo messages to figure out various pieces of information, such as whether a network host is active or inactive, the round-trip delay time in communicating with the network, and any information packet loss along the way.

Several packets of information are sent to check response times. An echo request packet is sent to an address; a successful request both gets to the destination and receives a reply within a predetermined amount of time. Without a reply, the request times out.

Although it’s often confused with latency, ping is the actual command sent out. Latency refers to the response time, measured in milliseconds, that the command retrieves. They are closely connected, but slightly different.

Ping features are provided by most networks. Users can send ping requests or ping servers by entering the server’s IP address or domain name.

Ping test results displayed in command prompt window

What is a good ping speed?

If you search “test my ping,” you’ll find Internet ping tests that can help you get a response time, but what do those test results even mean?

In short, if you get high ping, it means that your network isn’t performing at its best. This is especially a problem for video calls or online games, which rely on low latency numbers and fast speeds. A ping rate under 20 m/s is considered fast and is ideal for those activities that require speed. However, in general, ping times between 50 m/s and 100 m/s are acceptable for day-to-day Internet activities.

How can I improve my ping speed?

There are many different ways that you can improve your ping speed if you find that slow speeds are disrupting your online activities. Try doing the following to see if anything improves:

  1. Use an Ethernet cord to connect directly to your WiFi router. Sometimes, the quality of wireless service provided by your Internet service provider (ISP) is insufficient. Try a wired connection with an Ethernet cable, or consider upgrading your modem and router if your ping is still high and creating lag.
  2. Adjust your router setup in your home. The location of your server, and the distance between your device and your server, affects ping rate. Check to make sure that your router is placed in an open space, not inhibited by any walls or large furniture. Get your computer or device as close to the router as possible.
  3. Remove other devices from your network, like your phone or tablet. Internet connection speed plays a role in your ping rate. If your Internet speed is slow, you can try a wired connection as mentioned above – or, just remove additional unnecessary devices from the network when not using them.
  4. Configure your firewall. Because your firewall checks data packets sent and received by your computer, it can slow down your Internet connection speed and lead to high latency. Try disabling your firewall to lower your ping rate.
  5. Close any programs running in the background of your device. Though this action is simple, it can help clear your computer and allow it to run at top speed, lowering ping rates in turn.
  6. Check your bandwidth. Insufficient bandwidth affects the amount of time required for data to be sent and received, which results in high ping. Run a speed test to check your bandwidth; if your speeds are not up to par with your ISP, let them know to fix the problem.
  7. Clear your router’s cache. If all else fails, try flushing the cache to ensure that there’s nothing keeping your router lagging.

What is the purpose of the ping command?

The ping command has a number of useful purposes. For example, you can use it to test network reliability and speed. After opening your computer’s command center, ping a website and you’ll see the size and number of information packets sent and received.

The results also show response times for each individual packet. You can also see minimum, maximum, and average response times after using the command. A quick response time indicates that all networking devices between your computer and the destination are running smoothly.

Finding a website’s IP address can be done easily with the ping command. Simply follow the steps above to open command prompt or Terminal and type “ping” followed by the website’s name. For example, to find the IP address of Google, type “ping google.com” for results.

Try using this command on your own router to see its reachability. Difficulties in reaching a location on the Internet can originate from your router or the location; this test will tell you on which end the problem lies. Receiving a successful response means that your own local network is working well and the problem is out of your hands.

How to complete a ping test

Access the ping command through a command center. The command center varies by computer system, as Microsoft users access command prompt while Apple users have Terminal. You can also use an Internet ping test, like SpeedTest, for more general results. An Internet ping test works as an overall broadband speed test instead of just specific connections between a website and your server.

Microsoft

Microsoft computer users have a couple of ways to get to the command prompt and put in the ping command.

1. Open the Windows start menu and search command prompt in the search bar. It will pop up with a shortcut for access.

2. Open the Run box by pressing Windows+R. Type

cmd

into the box that comes up and hit OK to open command prompt.

4. If you find yourself running the command often, create a Desktop shortcut by right-clicking an empty spot on the Desktop to pull up the context menu. After pulling up the menu, select New and Shortcut, then type:

cmd.exe

into the Shortcut box. Hit Next and name the shortcut, and you will have an easy way to access command prompt from the Desktop.

Apple

For Apple MacBook users, the ping command is executed through the Terminal app.

1. Open the Finder and search for the Applications.

2. Locate the Utilities folder and select it.

3. Locate Terminal and double-click to launch it.

4. Enter the ping command within the Terminal window.