Pining for a Pinger

ISPs conserve their resources by logging off connections that have been idle for a while. A Ping utility keeps your Internet connection alive.

Ping (packet Internet groper) is a standard TCP/IP utility used to query an Internet host (any machine on the Internet is called a host) and ensure that it is possible to establish an active connection. It's a form of cyberforeplay, equivalent to saying "You awake?"

If you Ping continually, you fool your ISP's system into thinking the connection is always in use and avoid being logged off. However, just as repeated wake-up calls may annoy, Pinging continually is Internet-antisocial. If you're paying for time online, rather than for a fixed price connection, you may find it expensive to keep the line open. If you're paying a fixed price with an additional cost for download traffic, you may end up paying more if you don't limit the traffic your Pinging generates.

Windows 9x comes with a simple command line Ping utility. To use it you simply start up an MS-DOS session (Start-Programs-MS-DOS Prompt) and type:

Ping

where

is either the IP address (eg 203.34.46.17) or the domain name (eg pcworld.idg.com.au) of the machine you wish to Ping. Type Ping with no argument to see a full set of options.

Ping attempts to send a packet to the machine and receive an echoed packet in return, and displays the time taken for the round trip. If it fails to receive a packet in reply, Ping displays an error message: "Bad IP address" indicates you used a domain name that cannot be resolved, and "Timed out" indicates no reply arrived before the timeout period elapsed. If it fails all four times, someone has a headache. This could be the TCP/IP software on the local or remote machine, or some part of the network in between.

Not only does Ping tell you if the destination machine is talking to you, it measures with the time value the sluggishness of the network connecting you. TTL (Time to Live) is a setting that determines an upper limit on time and router hops before the packet times out.

The Ping option -t causes the utility to Ping a specified address until interrupted. If you don't interrupt Ping, it should keep the connection alive permanently. With this Ping utility, there is no option to limit the traffic, and this may result in a cost.

You can create a batch file containing the Ping -t

command, and place a Shortcut on your desktop. For an address you can use your ISP's Web or mail server name.

Manually start the batch file after you start your dial-up connection. You could place the Shortcut in your Windows startup folder and have it permanently running, but this is a waste of computer resources. When you're not connected to the Internet, a goodly portion of your CPU cycles will be devoted to creating the message: "Destination host unreachable".

For more functionality and a graphical interface, try the WS_Ping Pro Pack, a Windows 95/NT program offering not only Ping but traceroute, name server lookup, finger, whois, LDAP, quote, scan, SNMP and WinNet (see our cover CD). It also lets you query HTML headers and synchronise your system with world standard digital clocks such as the US Navy Clock. A 30-day evaluation version is available at www.ipswitch.com and the single user purchase price is $US37.50 - not bad for a professional network diagnostic utility. WS_Ping has context sensitive online help explaining in detail all the tools it provides, including Ping. By setting the delay to 60 seconds you limit traffic, and by setting the repeat count to 9999 you keep the connection open.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Neale Morison

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?