The Ping utility is essentially a system administrator’s tool that is used to see if a computer is operating and also to see if network connections are intact. Ping uses the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) Echo function.

What does ping symbolise?

Ping maybe considered an acronym for the words ‘Packet INternet Groper’.

It may have also been adopted from a verb that the US Navy used to describe what its submarines do when looking for objects under the sea. Their subs send out sonar waves and then wait for a return wave when it bounces off something, such as another sub, whale, ocean floor etc. This, in turn, was adopted from bats and dolphins, who navigate in roughly the same way. This is what a system administrator does when Ping is used. As such, Ping has also evolved into a verb in the computer industry, and it is used in somewhat the same manner of the Navy.

How ping works

A small packet is sent through the network to a particular IP address.

This packet contains 64 bytes – 56 data bytes and 8 bytes of protocol reader information.

The computer that sent the packet then waits (or ‘listens’) for a return packet. If the connections are good and the target computer is up, a good return packet will be received.

PING can also tell the user the number of hops that lie between two computers and the amount of time it takes for a packet to make the complete trip. Additionaly, an administrator can use Ping to test out name resolution. If the packet bounces back when sent to the IP address but not when sent to the name, then the system is having a problem matching the name to the IP address.
The time it takes for the packet to get to the target computer and back again is known as the round trip time. If this takes an extended period of time, it is indicative that something may be wrong.

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