A big factor in how fast your Internet speed feels is measured as “Ping,” which is the time it takes, in milliseconds, for a server to respond to a request from your computer or other Internet device. A slow ping rate can be caused by network issue, a website being overloaded with traffic or hardware issues. Credit: Speedtest.net

Life is not perfect and sometimes your Internet speeds are going to be a lot slower than what you expect. But it’s not always a matter of your download and upload speeds. Sometimes ping is the problem. But what is ping?

While broadband bandwidth (say, the 20 megabits per second download speeds your ISP may promise) is the maximum speed of your Internet service, ping measures in milliseconds how long it actually takes for an online server to respond to a request from you at a given moment. A high ping (say anything over 100ms) can mean that there is network congestion, a website is overload with traffic or, if you lived somewhere very remote, that it’s taking longer than usual to reach the server. This can be a concern in online action games where a low ping can mean a competitive advantage. Sites like speedtest.net can show you your current Internet speed rates as well as ping.

The word ping is sometimes used interchangeably with “Latency,” which is also a measure of how long it takes for your Internet device and a web address to communicate with each other.

In this space every week, we’ll define a tech term, offer a timely tip or answer questions about technology from readers. Email ogallaga@statesman.com.