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Why does windows ping only 4 times?

Posted on 2008-06-19
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Last Modified: 2011-10-19
Dear All,

This isnt really a help question, but more of a "why is that?"

Can anyone answer me why does Windows only ping 4 times?
Is there any real reason behind this.. As there is abit of a debate going on where I work. One person said its because of the OSI model.. Silly boy...

If anyone could help me, that would be great
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Question by:jackoltd
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12 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:alikaz3
ID: 21823956
Why would you need more than 4? I see why they don't have it go just once, as there are some fluke measurements. More than 4 seems redundant to me. That is also just the default amount of times, the "-n count" switch can make it operate as many times as you'd like.
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hybridrocknroll earned 336 total points
ID: 21824070
First, check out the definition: Ping works by sending ICMP echo request packets to the target host and listening for ICMP echo response replies. Ping estimates the round-trip time, generally in milliseconds, and records any packet loss, creating a summary of the readings.

The echo request is an ICMP message whose data is expected to be received back in an echo reply ("pong"). The host must respond to all echo requests with an echo reply containing the exact data received in the request message.

Because data is constantly moving, 4 is used because a number greater would be redundant and time consuming, less would create less data to measure and thus less to examine when there is a problem. 4 also allows for network "hick-ups", so if there is a millisecond of down time, 75% would still pass, but still shows there are faults. That's the way that I understand it.
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by:Jamsb
ID: 21824073
Do ping <Ip Address> -t to ping continuously.
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by:Jamsb
ID: 21824089
Sorry. I Misread the question.
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by:Trivious
ID: 21824275
Thats the standard that Microsoft set. They believe that it is not only sufficient to determine if there is a reply coming back in a timely fashion, but that it isnt overkill either. They included the switches to give you versatility in this aspect if you feel otherwise or need more pings for some reason. Its a Microsoft standard, thats all.
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Author Comment

by:jackoltd
ID: 21824334
So there is no real technical reason for it, they just felt like it?
I was expecting some 5page long technical reason behind it...

I've been told that Apple and other OS's just do a continuous ping until you cancel it (like you can do in windows with the switch
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Expert Comment

by:alikaz3
ID: 21824481
Yea but that requires using the control-c function to get out. I know tech's wouldn't like to explain an extra step to someone over the phone :D
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Assisted Solution

by:tigermatt
tigermatt earned 332 total points
ID: 21825585
There's is a slightly technical reason to it, but the figure of 4 pings isn't really a set figure which must be used. 4 ping transmits are set simply because sending one ICMP ping packet to the remote host might happen to be blocked or stopped between your PC and the remote PC. Using 4 pings ensures multiple packets are transmitted, and therefore you can check to see that there wasn't just a temporary fault by comparing the results across each ping.

But the actual technical reason behind 4 pings - there isn't one, they could have made it 3 or 5 or any other number above 1 to satisfy the above requirement - I guess 4 just means the ping can both be reliable in terms of ensuring the connection is valid but at the same time it doesn't take too long to run the requests.

-tigermatt
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Assisted Solution

by:str_kani
str_kani earned 332 total points
ID: 22387977
I like this question, I made some testing with the Ping.exe before comment on this. I think they set this to 4 just to make the calculations simple. I tried with -n to see how they calculate the % of received and lost.

I tried a ping for -n 100 and was waiting till the first time out. First lose of packet.

See the attached screen print for my point, 40 packets sent,  received 39  lost: 1, Microsoft's ping says 2% lost but 2.5% to be accurate. so whoever ping with out -n they will ping 4 times and calculate the % easily and does not care about values less than or equal to .5?!


Microsoft-pings.jpg
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Expert Comment

by:alikaz3
ID: 22388323
str_kani brings up a very good point. Why wouldn't MS just code their program correctly so it rounds that 2.5 up to 3? I bet it rounds down all values (2.99=2), that would be an interesting experiment :D
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