‘Ping’ a way to measure Internet response time — and slow Web service

Life is not perfect, and sometimes your Internet speeds are going to be a lot slower than what you expect. But it’s not always a matter of your download and upload speeds. Sometimes ping can help narrow down the problem. But what is ping?

While broadband bandwidth — say, the 20 megabits per second download speeds your ISP may promise — is the maximum speed of your Internet service, ping measures in milliseconds how long it actually takes for an online server to respond to a request from you at a given moment. A high ping — say anything over 100ms — can mean that there is network congestion, a website is overloaded with traffic or, if you lived somewhere very remote, that it’s taking longer than usual to reach the server. This can be a concern in online action games, where a low ping rate can mean a competitive advantage. Sites like speedtest.net can show you your current Internet speed rates, as well as ping.

The word ping is sometimes used interchangeably with “latency.” When you use ping, you’re measuring the latency of the connection between the Internet device and a Web address.

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