How to use PING

This article is part of our Network troubleshooting series and covers the use of PING.

The PING command allows you test whether a remote device is accessible on the internet (or your local network).

PING is available on Windows and Mac computers - and either natively or via an app for other devices.

You can PING an IP address, or a hostname (which will return it's IP address).

Windows

  1. Open a Command Prompt (or MS-DOS window) - from the Start menu.
  2. The following screenshot shows a PING to a hostname, in this case hera.krystal.co.uk - and then a second PING to Hera's IP address:
    ping hera.krystal.co.uk
    followed by
    ping 77.72.1.34
    In both these cases you can see the Reply from lines - which detail the IP replying, the size in bytes of the PING reply, the time to reply and the Time To Live (TTL)
  3. A full list of PING options can be seen by typing ping /?

Apple macOS

Whilst you can run PING in a terminal window - we recommend using the Network Utility.

  1. Using Spotlight (cmd+spacebar or click the magnifying glass on the top right of the menu bar) and start typing Network Utility.

    Click on Network Utility either in the list on the left, or on it's name/icon on the left to open it.
  2. Select the Ping tab and enter the hostname or IP address you'd like to PING and click the Ping button.
    You can select how many PINGs to send - the default is 10.

    Each result line shows, the PING packet size, the reply from IP address, the Internet Control Messaging Protocol (ICMP) sequence number (a sequential count of the number of PINGs), the Time To Live (TTL) and the PING reply time.

What can you tell from a PING result

  1. Incorrect hostname

    The message you see will depend on whether you are using a Mac or Windows PC - but it'll be something like:

    ping: cannot resolve <hostname>: Unknown host

    or

    Ping request could not find host here.krystal.co.uk. Please check the name and try again.

    This is telling you that the hostname you've typed isn't being resolved by DNS to an IP address. Check the hostname and try again.

    It may also indicate that you can't access a DNS server - in which case you may have a local internet connection issue - try a PING to a different internet device, or using a browser to ensure you can access other internet sites.
  2. Request timeout
    Getting consistent request timeout responses can mean one of a few things:

    - the device you are trying to PING is shutdown or unreachable - the device you are trying to PING, or firewall in front of it are dropping Internet Control Messaging Protocol (ICMP) packets

    - you have no internet connectionYou can rule out the last of these by sending a test PING to another system

    - or by using a browser to ensure you can access other internet sites.If you've confirmed you have internet access then you might try using TRACEROUTE to further investigate why you can't reach the remove device.
  3. Intermittent/laggy PING
    Getting intermittent PING responses - or high response times can mean one of a few things:

    - the device you are trying to PING is under high load and unable to respond consistently

    - a section of the network between you and the device is under high load

    - there may be an network issue between you and the device

    Start by trying to rule out if this is device specific - PING a different device or site on the internet - to see if that responds quickly. If so it's likely your systems and internet connection are working ok and this is a remote system/network problem specific to the device you were trying to connect to.

    If other unrelated devices give similar results then this may be an issue with your device or internet connection. Try resetting your local infrastructure - modem/router, and other network devices (e.g. WiFi repeaters/access points, network switches, homeplug extenders) along with your device.

    You can perform further investigation with TRACEROUTE to attempt to identify where between you and the remote device/site the connection slow down is occurring.


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