There are a few theories that "ping" is actually an acronym, and some say it stands for "Packet Internet or Inter-Network Groper". But there's nothing really substantial to say that it represents anything.
Using ping to check the status of a server comes in handy when trying to troubleshoot a network problem. Networks are usually made up of many different servers. If any of them go down or act slowly, it may prevent you from connecting to the server you want to access. Worse still, there will be very little feedback on which server, exactly, is causing the problems!
By pinging from your computer to the target server, you can see the stages of your communication as it travels. If the communication "triggers" at a specific location, your computer will let you know that the signal has been lost. This means you can diagnose which leg of the journey went wrong and fix the problem accordingly.
If the server is already talking to your computer correctly, a ping test can tell you how fast your connection is. This is usually measured in milliseconds, which is why the ping usually displays its speed in "ms". The lower this number, the faster the communications between you and the server. A 25ms ping is “faster” than a 120ms ping, for example.
This is especially handy in video games where each player talks to a central server. The server stores all information about the current game and tells players what is going on. Players respond by telling the server what moves they would like to make.
If the ping is too high, your computer takes a while to send and receive information from the server. This means that the player will not transmit their moves before other players and will see things happen later than other players. This then creates an undesirable game state where people with high pings cannot react to what is happening in the game as quickly as other players.
While you may already know that lower pings equal better connections, what a "ping" actually is isn't so obvious. Now you know what a ping is and why it is important in computer networks.
Have you ever pinged a server to check for network issues? Let us know below.