What is ping?

The easiest way to talk about variable response rates is with gaming. Chances are most COD players have rage quit more than once, most Fortnite players have quit their server mid-game, and most of us have all but cancelled our Nintendo Online because Smash Ultimate is just the worst.

But if you’re new to the gaming world or just browsing–ping is simply the delay of messages sent between any given set of hosts. Even the slowest ping won’t exceed more than a second or two (unless you’re using dial-up or DSL, which are all but obsolete at this point), and for that reason ping is measured in milliseconds.

Your ping rates can vary based on several things like the:
  • Quality of your Internet connection,
  • Distance between the server and your computer
  • Quality of physical connection with the modem or router

Aside from determining how well your computer communicates on the world wide web, ping rates also can be used to troubleshoot Internet connections. Regardless of usage, platform, or need–connectivity, speed, and reaction time is improved with a lower ping rate.

Why does ping matter?

A low ping is crucial for those playing online, or live with other players. Slow internet amid the online gaming community can result in what seems like:
  • Endless Lag
  • Excruciating Buffer Times
  • Can ruin the visual design of games
  • Worst case scenario–get you booted from servers

Many online games and interactions come down to single frame determining factors. Even the most hairpin millisecond can mean the difference between loss and victory for an entire community.

Interaction designing for multiplayer servers are programmed to kick out players with high ping to prevent lag and other performance issues. In some cases, high ping can even be used to determine if a user is trying to cheat or hack the programmers code.

However, ping rates apply to everyday internet activity. All types of social media use ping as a measurement for live streaming. Social Media Marketing can use ping as a measurement of how long their customers stay engaged on any given site or interaction. User Experience (UX) designers base their layout, compression, and overall interactivity on ping, so they don’t overload servers and ultimately ruin the user experience design. Even the everyday search engine has a minimal ping, so you can access your results as quickly as possible.

Since ping is an indication of how fast an Internet connection is, it can impact virtually everything in cyberspace. From user interface design to ladder climbing on the international scoreboards–ping is king.

What is a good ping rate?

Ideally, you’re looking for a ping of 50 – 100ms. Anything below 25 is considered exceptional. Die-hard gamers are working for a latency ping of about 10 – 15ms. Anything above 150ms is noticeable and considered a poor ping rate.

What’s the difference between ping and latency?

Though often used interchangeably with ping, latency is the measure of time between a request and a result. Latency rates reveal how much time it takes for a signal to travel to your internet destination server and back. Lower latency means lower lag time, therefore the lower the number, the better. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms). Learn how to test latency on your network.

Checking your ping

A responsive tool is key to ensuring that you’re getting uniform test results–regardless of if you are on a desktop or mobile device. Before you run the test, the easiest way to lower your ping is to hardwire into your modem or router with an ethernet cable.

Relying on your modem or router for its wireless connectivity isn’t always reliable, and takes additional time. Bandwidth can also be used up if multiple devices are connected to the same modem or router wirelessly. Some internet service providers even throttle speeds depending on how often you use the internet.

Many providers work on a group cloud basis–meaning the more people in your area are using the same provider as you, the lower your speed will be. Unfortunately, due to net neutrality, there’s little to nothing that can be done about these particular measures.

Additionally, since responsive tests run completely in your browser, you can also run them on gaming consoles or smart TVs. Having this ability can greatly help you troubleshoot any issues that come up with your Internet connection. If you’re using a public IP address (a small business’s wifi or public computer) contact the host if you’re experiencing any latency problems. It’s always best to use your trusted private server when surfing the web or gaming online.

Sick of slow games? Can’t stand your buffer? Find out if your ping is up to snuff.

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