If you’re already familiar with the terms “ping,” “lag,” and “latency,” you can skip ahead. But if you’ve never heard of these words before or you just want to test your knowledge, here’s a refresher.
When you hear the word “ping,” you might immediately think of a high-pitched sound, like the sound a spoon makes when it hits the side of a glass. In regards to gaming, however, ping refers to the time it takes (in milliseconds, or ms) for a signal to travel between an action within an online game and the server you’re playing on. That said, you can combine the two definitions to make it easier to understand how ping works.
Imagine that your hand moving the spoon is like the action you’re taking in an online game, like walking forward, and the glass is like the server that’s responding to your in-game action. The faster that you’re able to clink the glass with your spoon, the better; in-game, a faster ping rate means that when you give the command to move your player forward, the server responds quicker. A slow ping rate often makes games unplayable.
While ping is a one-way measurement of how fast it takes for a signal to be sent from your computer to a server, latency is a measurement of the whole trip to and from the server back to your computer. Ping is used to measure latency.
Lastly, lag is the result of a high ping or high latency situation. When these two measurements are two high, they make your gameplay slow, sometimes so slow to the point that you can’t even play the game anymore. Experiencing lag in a game could look like a stuttering screen or a completely frozen screen.