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Ping - Start to "Know your Network"

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

What is ‘ICMP PING’ test?

Ping is a computer ‘Network Administration Software’ utility used to test the connectivity of a host on an Internet Protocol (IP) network. It is available for virtually all operating systems that have networking capability, including most embedded network administration software.

If there is connectivity, Ping measures the round-trip time for messages sent from the originating host to a destination computer that are echoed back to the source. The name comes from ‘Active Sonar’ terminology that sends out a pulse of sound and listens for the echo to detect objects under water.

Ping operates by sending Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echo request packets to the target host and waiting for an ICMP echo reply. The program reports errors, packet loss, and a statistical summary of the results, typically including the minimum, maximum, the mean round-trip times, and standard deviation of the mean.

The command-line options of the ping utility and its output vary between the numerous implementations. Options may include the size of the payload, count of tests, limits for the number of network hops (TTL) that probes traverse, and the interval time between the requests. Many systems provide a companion utility ping6, for testing on Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) networks, which implement ICMPv6.

Apps that support ping can also be installed on smartphones and other mobile devices. Additionally, websites that support Internet speed test services often include ping as one of their features.

While upload and download speeds are measured in megabits per second, you will notice that ping test results usually appear as “ms”, which stands for milliseconds. A good ping speed for broadband internet is considered to be 100ms or lower, with truly efficient connections measuring in below 30ms.

If you’ve taken an internet speed test lately, you might notice that aside from your download and upload speeds, your connection’s ping is also tested. Download and upload speeds might seem easy enough to understand, but what exactly is ping and what does it show us?

In the context of a computer network, ping refers to the method for transferring data between two computers. So, a ping test measures whether your computer communicates with another computer via the network, and how efficiently it does so.

When an internet speed test is running, it determines what is called the “connection latency” between the two communicating computers. Connection latency is really just a technical term for delay, so running an internet speed test determines how long the delay is between your computer and the device it is communicating with, and therefore how efficiently data is transferred between them.

Author - George Bouchard - George is a Technology Writer and Evangelist for ProfiTAP, a worldwide leader in providing unique and the highest quality visibility and access solutions for Network Visibility and Testing.

“It All Starts with Visibility!”

George has been in associated with many network analysis and testing companies in his many years in the networking industry, Network General makers of the original network “Sniffer”, Netcom (now Spirent), NetIQ (now part of Micro Focus) and ClearSight.

The technology industry has always amazed me because the technology of my youth was the Monroe Calculator and the IBM Electric Typewriter (before Selectric) I am always in awe on how far the industry has advanced in my lifetime.

**Note from the Editor - I have known George for many decades and not only is he a super friend but an awesome and very experienced technologist and that is why he is writing the "Know Your Network" series.

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