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The TCP/IP Guide

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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  TCP/IP Application Layer Protocols, Services and Applications (OSI Layers 5, 6 and 7)
      9  TCP/IP Key Applications and Application Protocols
           9  TCP/IP Administration and Troubleshooting Utilities and Protocols

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TCP/IP Host Name Utility (hostname)
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TCP/IP Route Tracing Utility (traceroute/tracert/traceroute6)
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TCP/IP Communication Verification Utility (ping/ping6)
(Page 5 of 5)

ping Options and Parameters

All ping implementations include a number of options and parameters that allow an administrator to fine-tune how it works. They allow ping to be used for more extensive or specific types of testing. For example, ping can be set in a mode where it sends Echo messages continually, to check for an intermittent problem over a long period of time. You can also increase the size of the messages sent or the frequency with which they are transmitted, to test the ability of the local network to handle large amounts of traffic.

As always, the exact features of the ping program are implementation-dependent; even though UNIX and Windows systems often include many of the same options, they usually use completely different option codes. Table 285 shows some of the more important options that are often defined for the utility on many UNIX systems, and where appropriate, the parameters supplied with the option. Table 286 shows a comparable table for a typical Windows system.

Table 285: Common UNIX ping Utility Options and Parameters

Option / Parameters


-c <count>

Specifies the number of Echo messages that should be sent.


Flood mode; sends Echo packets at high speed to stress-test a network. This can cause serious problems if not used carefully!

-i <wait-interval>

Tells the utility how long to wait between transmissions.

-m <ttl-value>

Overrides the default Time To Live (TTL) value for outgoing Echo messages.


Numeric output only; suppresses lookups of DNS host names to save time.

-p <pattern>

Allows a byte pattern to be specified for inclusion in the transmitted Echo messages. This can be useful for diagnosing certain odd problems that may only occur with certain types of transmissions.


Quiet output; only summary lines are displayed at the start and end of the program’s execution, while the lines for each individual message are suppressed.


Tells the utility to include the Record Route IP option, so the route taken by the ICMP Echo message can be displayed. This option is not supported by all implementations; the traceroute utility is usually a better idea.

-s <packet-size>

Specifies the size of outgoing message to use.

-S <src-addr>

On devices that have multiple IP interfaces (addresses), allows a ping sent from one interface to use an address from one of the others.

-t <timeout>

Specifies a timeout period, in seconds, after which the ping utility will terminate, regardless of how many requests or replies have been sent or received.

Table 286: Common Windows ping Utility Options and Parameters

Option / Parameters



If the target device is specified as an IP address, force the address to be resolved to a DNS host name and displayed.


Sets the Don’t Fragment bit in the outgoing datagram.

-i <ttl-value>

Specifies the TTL value to be used for outgoing Echo messages.

-j <host-list>

Sends the outgoing messages using the specified loose source route.

-k <host-list>

Sends the outgoing messages using the indicated strict source route.

-l <buffer-size>

Specifies the size of the data field in the transmitted Echo messages.

-n <count>

Tells the utility how many Echo messages to send.

-r <count>

Specifies the use of the Record Route IP option and the number of hops to be recorded. As with the corresponding UNIX “-R” option, the traceroute utility is usually preferable.

-s <count>

Specifies the use of the IP Timestamp option to record the arrival time of the Echo and Echo Reply messages.


Sends Echo messages continuously until the program is interrupted.

-w <timeout>

Specifies how long the program should wait for each Echo Reply before giving up, in milliseconds (default is 4000, for 4 seconds).

The ping6 Utility

The IPv6 version of ping, sometimes called ping6, works in very much the same way as IPv4 ping. The main differences between the two utilities are that ping6’s options and parameters reflect the changes made in addressing and routing in IPv6.

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TCP/IP Host Name Utility (hostname)
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TCP/IP Route Tracing Utility (traceroute/tracert/traceroute6)
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005

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