When data is sent over the Internet, it’s sent in small blocks of data, called packets. Messages are divided into packets before they are sent, and each packet is then transmitted individually and can even follow different routes to its destination. Once all the packets forming a message arrive at the destination, they are recompiled into the original message.
Sometimes when you are trying to send or receive data over the Internet you may experience timeouts, or a Web server may be down, which prevents you from accessing services and Web sites. There are two common programs that can be used to test your Internet connection and even help you diagnose congestion between your computer (your ISP) and the destination server you’re trying to reach. The programs you can use are called Ping and Traceroute.
The Difference Between Traceroute and Ping
By Vangie Beal, February 13, 2009