Lots of people are now testing their internet connection using services such as Speedtest.net and Pingtest.net, but what does it all mean?
A ping is the time it takes for what's called an Echo Request to be sent to a remote host and then a response received by the sender. This number is measured in Milliseconds.
A Millisecond is one thousandth of a second, so as an example lets say the remote host was a Server in London, it took your pc 95ms or approx 1/10 of a second to send a single request to this Server and get a response back.
There are many many factors that affect your ping, such as distance from server, current server/client activity (multiple tests at the same time), etc that's why it can fluctuate on each test.
Generally lower is better but this isn't really noticable if just browsing websites and downloading software. Users who more notice lower ping replies are online games players (and I mean proper online games where high amounts of data are transmitted).
To show the differences here is a Speedtest from a hotel in the UK (taken on 24th April 2010) and a test using Tooway (taken on 30th April 2010). It is interesting to note that even with a lower ping test I couldn’t infact get online. However with the Tooway stats I am online and surfing quite happily.
It just goes to show that all this ‘Speed Testing’ isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.