What is a Ping?

The word “ping” is used in computer networking. It’s usually used to test and see if a machine is able to be “reached” or “talked to” over a network. The terminology reminds me of the concept of radar systems. I have a tendency to think of it as “bouncing a test” off the other machine. Most every operating system that has networking support can ping, or should be able to answer a ping request. Many times it’s used as a basic test of the ability to access the internet.

Yes, it’s possible to tell if you can access the internet without opening a web browser. For instance, in Windows you can go to the start menu and select run and then type cmd and press ok.

Then you can type:

ping www.google.com

if you see an answer like

PING google.com ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=245 time=17.8 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=246 time=16.9 ms

This indicates the machine is answering if you see a message along the lines of “request timed out” or “no route to host” that means that for some reason you can’t connect to the machine you’re trying to “ping”.

These days there are things that may complicate the use of ping as a simple test of network connections. Most firewalls (software or hardware designed to control network traffic) have capabilities to ignore ping requests or block them outright. In this case, you could have a working network connection, but not be able to test it accurately with “ping”.

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