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Definition: Ping is the name of a standard software utility (tool) used to test network connections. It can be used to determine if a remote device (such as Web or game server) can be reached across the network and, if so, the connection's latency. Ping tools are part of Windows, Mac OS X and Linux as well as some routers and game consoles.

(Note: The term "ping" is also used colloquially by computer enthusiasts when initiating contact with another person via email, instant message or other online tools.)

Most ping tools use Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP). They send request messages to a target network address at periodic intervals and measure the time it takes for a response message to arrive. These tools typically support options like

  • how many times to send requests
  • how large of a request message to send
  • how long to wait for each reply

The output of ping varies depending on the tool. Standard results includes

  • IP address of the responding computer
  • length of time (in milliseconds) between sending the request and receiving the response
  • an indication of how many network hops between the requesting and responding computers
  • error messages if the target computer did not respond


Also Known As: Packet Internet Gopher

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