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 What is Ping?

Inside the Internet - What is Ping?

You've probably seen that little number at the top (or bottom) of your game screen that displays your ping. Most gamers know that a lower number is better, but what does ping actually represent? 

Ping Is A Measurement, Sort Of

In the strictest sense, ping is actually a software utility used to test connection between computer networks. The measurement of time, in milliseconds, that it takes the information to make the trip between these locations is called latency. However, in the world of online gaming, ping and latency are considered synonymous. And for the purposes of our post, we'll use them interchangeably as well. Achieving the lowest ping possible is desirable because this means the data from the game server to your computer will be updated more frequently. This results in smoother gameplay when competing online. Conversely, a high ping can result in poor performance, lag or disconnections from the game server.

There are several key factors that contribute to the ping you see in game, including:

  • The internet connection speed available to you from your ISP
  • Presence of active firewalls
  • Using wireless rather than a wired Ethernet connection
  • Distance between you and the game server
  • Network speed and congestion

Outfox Improves Network Ping

The amount of influence you have over these factors can vary greatly. If the connection speed provided by your ISP is sub-optimal, you may be able to move to a faster plan or provider. But these options may not be available in your area or financially viable depending on your situation. Using a wired connection is a great place to start, given that your computer has an Ethernet port and you are close enough to your router. Disabling firewalls such as Windows Firewall is an option if speed is important, but it does run the risk of leaving your computer vulnerable. Whenever possible, choosing a game server near you is also a good practice. 

Despite your best efforts, some factors that increase ping are usually entirely out of your control. If your desired game server is across the globe, or the time of day you play has a lot of network congestion, you may feel stuck with high ping and frustrating lag.

Fortunately, Outfox gives you control over these previously uncontrollable factors. When you use Outfox with Fastest Server selected, we'll route your game traffic through our optimized network and bypass network congestion and unnecessary additional stops along the path. This is because Outfox is smart enough to make informed decisions about the best way to handle your connection.

Network Ping And Game Ping Are Different

Another factor that will vary from game to game is additional ping added in the game network. Often this may include an authentication server (used to log in to your account), a shared selector and a server cluster. This extra path that your data must travel can add on a few milliseconds, or even more depending on the status of the game servers. For example, when playing Overwatch using Outfox you may see an Outfox ping of 45ms displayed in the app. Then, inside of Overwatch, you may see a ping of 48ms displayed. This extra 3ms is added in the game servers and can only be reduced by optimizations made by Blizzard.

Performance is important when gaming online, and making the best decisions available can seriously improve your game. Go forth to victory, fellow gamer, armed with Outfox and the power of ping!