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Ping

The ping tool lets you see if a location on the network is responding. You can give it either an IP address or a domain name. IPv6 addresses aren't currently supported.

Usage

In the text box, enter one of:

  • A domain name
  • An IP address in standard form.
  • An IP address as a single decimal number, with the "Convert Base-10 to IP" box checked.

Click the "Ping" button and then "Go."

When to use it

The ping tool can determine if a node is online and what its IP address is. It can indicate if the node is intermittently unavailable or responding slowly.

What it does

The tool sends a packet to the destination and waits for a response. It reports the results of doing this ten times. You will see the round-trip time in milliseconds for each ping. At the end you'll see the average time.

At the top of the output you'll see the information you typed, the canonical domain name, and the registered domain. If you enter a domain name and the host responds to more than one name, the canonical name may be different. The registered domain is the owner's base domain; for example, the registered domain for www.network-tools.com is network-tools.com. If there's no domain associated with the host (which is unusual but possible), you'll see the IP address.

If the destination is reachable but doesn't respond, you will see "Timed out" for the result. It will take several seconds for the command to complete in this case. If you enter a non-existent domain name, the results can be unpredictable. You may get an error message, a timeout, or a valid response for a different server belonging to the same name. Error code 1214 (transmit failed) is common when pinging an unreachable or non-existent host.

Running the tool several times, separated by a few minutes, will give a better idea of whether the site has intermittent problems.

A deeper look

The ping tool uses the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP). ICMP is an integral part of the Internet Protocol (IP), so any functioning host on the Internet should respond to ping. The tool sends an echo request packet to the host and listens for an echo reply packet. RFC 1122, "Requirements for Internet Hosts," specifies that every host must send an echo reply when pinged. Even so, not every host does. Some firewalls block echo requests to prevent DoS attacks, to reduce their own visibility, or just by mistake. Only publicly accessible servers have a good reason to respond.Firewalls on many desktop machines, including Windows Firewall, block ping by default. The lack of a ping response doesn't prove that the host is down.

If a host sometimes responds and sometimes times out, it may have a bad Internet connection or be seriously overloaded. Some hosts accept communication only from a limited range of IP addresses (e.g., only inside their own country) and might not respond to any requests from network-tools.com.

Pinging a broadcast or multicast IP address (e.g., 104.24.255.255) is possible, but the hosts that it covers aren't required to respond. The results can be unpredictable and hard to make sense of.

Since the ping tool runs on network-tools.com and not your own computer, you can't use it to test internal addresses on your local network. You'll need to run a ping tool on your computer to do internal network checks. The round-trip time from network-tools.com may not be a good indicator of how fast a connection your own computer will get to the host. It's possible for a host to be reachable from here but not from your computer, or vice versa.

If you know how to do a ping from your own computer, trying it from there and from network-tools.com may help you to localize problems. If you get quick responses from here but not from your machine, the problem may be with your Internet connection or the way the host treats your location.

A host that responds to a ping is running and connected to the Internet, but this says nothing about what services are running on it. Its web or email server could be down, or it might not have these services at all, even though it responds to pings. A ping response very often comes directly from a router, so you'll get a response even if the computer behind it isn't running.

Interesting stuff

The term comes from sonar echolocation on submarines. The sonar sends out a "ping" sound and measures the time to get an echo. By knowing the speed of sound in water, the sonar can determine the distance to whatever bounced the sound back.

The ping command is included in most operating systems. Mike Muuss created the first version at the Ballistic Research Laboratory in 1983. An earlier piece of software that did roughly the same thing stood for "Packet Internet Groper."