What is Ping?

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What is Ping or Pinging?

Ping is a computer command that you can use to check if there a connection (reach-ability) between two devices.

The name comes from active marine sonar terminology that sends a pulse of sound and listens for the echo to detect objects under water.

When you “ping” a device you are asking your PC/device to send data (know as packets) to another device to check if there is connectivity between the two.

The ping command will tell you if the destination device is reachable.

This is a good tool to check if you have connectivity to a device or website.

By Pinging a website, you are checking if your have connectivity to the website and at the same time checking if your broadband is working.

You can ping and IP address, host name or website address (e.g Ping google.com).

Every internet enabled device (e.g PC, laptop, smart phone, tablet, etc) has a unique IP address.

How to Ping

PING, is a diagnostic tool that tests connectivity between devices.  In this example you will be checking if your device has connectivity to google.com.

If you don’t have connectivity to google, this would indicate a problem with your home broadband connection as that is the route your PC would take to connect to google.

On a Microsoft Windows PC

Press the Windows key+R on the keyboard and then click OK on the box that appears.
This will bring up the Command Prompt tool.
Type ping www.google.com

On an Apple Mac

On a Apple Mac go to the ‘Network Utility’ app, choose ‘Ping’ and type ‘www.google.com’
How to Ping and Check your IP address configuration on a MAC

Understanding the results from a PING test

This is an example of a successful ping

Successful Ping Test

Example of a failed Ping #1

Unsuccessful Ping Test

Error  message ‘Ping request could not find host‘ means that there is an issue with your DNS service .

Your DNS server is not translating the website name to an IP address and therefore your device does not know the IP address for google and cannot ‘talk’ to it.

Devices communicat using IP address and a DNS server translates names to IP addresses. DNS tells your device that the website your are trying to communicate to, (www.google.com in this example) has the IP address of 173.194.36.99 and therefore, if you want to talk to google.com send your comms to 173.194.36.99.

Example of a failed Ping #2

Failed Ping

As you can see from the output screen shot above, the DNS is working because the device is able to translate google.com into an IP address (173.194.36.99) but cannot connect to google.com.

Possible causes of this ping failure:

  • Problem with your internet connection
  • The end device/website may be down (unlikely in this case as google has resilience and is rarely down)
  • The end device (when pinging a device), may have a firewall that is blocking your PING probe
  • Issue on your network (e.g some sort of routing problem)
  • Check that you can ping your default gateway to make sure that the problem is not internal

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