Why network ping is important and what it’s for

Ping is one of the many terms you need to know to figure out if your home Internet is fast enough. Here's what it is and how to calculate it

In quarantine time, the Internet is under pressure because of the high increase in data traffic due to the boom of video streaming services like Netflix, for video games and the rise of video calls that could knock out even applications like WhatsApp. Many users, because of this, complain about network performance and look for solutions.

It happens that many network parameters that were previously unknown to most become popular in a short time. One of these is the so-called "ping", a value well known by online gaming enthusiasts and network technicians, but until yesterday unknown to most and that today, instead, they hear from their geeky friend "have you checked the ping?". The ping, indeed, is a very important parameter for the performance of any network and any connection between user and user and between user and server or website. Here's what ping is and what it's good for.

Ping: what it means

The term ping (which stands for "Packet Internet Grouper") refers to the time it takes for a data packet transmitted over a network to reach its destination and back. To give a practical example: every time we click on "Refresh" in the browser we are sending a request to the website we are visiting, so we send data and get a response from the site's server. The time it takes this data to get from our home to the server and back is pinging. Actually, to be precise, with "ping" technicians mean the test to detect this time but now the term has become commonly used.

What is the use of measuring the ping of your connection

As you can easily understand, there is no absolute ping of a connection: the ping is always relative to the server with which we want to exchange data. With the same Internet connection, therefore, there will be websites with a higher ping and websites with a lower ping. And that's not all: with the same site there will be moments of higher traffic, with higher ping, and moments of less intense traffic, with lower ping. However, if the ping is consistently high with all sites, at all times of the day, there is obviously a problem with our connection.

How to measure the ping of a site

On Windows 10 it is very easy to measure the ping of a site or device connected to the network. Just look in the Start menu box for "prompt" or "cmd" and open the command line terminal. Here we'll simply have to type "ping" followed by the IP address of the site or device we want to test. If we don't know the IP of a site we can also "ping" the URL directly, for example by running the command "ping www.google.it". It will show us the minimum, average and maximum ping obtained with four connection attempts. A ping under 30 ms is considered very good, a ping of 40-50 is good and a ping of 50-80 ms is acceptable. Above 80 ms ping it is very likely that we will have difficulty in navigating smoothly on that site.

Alternatively you can use the many services that perform the speed test and also allow you to calculate the value of ping. The data, however, should be contextualized to the type of server to which you are connected and therefore may not be very true.