Ping to Keep Your Connection Alive

A quick tip for folks who use a cell phone to connect to the Internet while on the road.

One of the reasons I bought my Treo back in May was because I wanted a phone that I could use with my laptop to connect to the Internet when I was away from WiFi access. The Treo has Bluetooth, which my 12″ PowerBook also has. After a bit of fiddling around, I taught the computer to use the telephone to connect to the Internet using Verizon’s Internet access.

Unfortunately, the Treo (or Verizon) setup drops the connection if it’s idle for a specific length of time. I don’t know what that length of time is, but I know it’s too short. For example, I can fetch my e-mail messages, but the connection will drop while I’m replying to one of them. Or if I take more than a minute or so to browse a Web page, the connection will drop. As a result, I have to reconnect. This is a pain in the butt.

The workaround that I found is to use ping. Simply set up your computer’s ping utility to ping a domain name continuously. This keeps a small amount of data going through the Internet pipeline, which keeps the connection open. It works like a charm.

Now don’t ask me how to ping on a PC. I don’t know how. But here’s how you can do it on a Mac.

  1. Open Network Utility. You’ll find it in the Utilities folder in your Applications folder.
  2. PingClick the Ping button.
  3. Enter the URL you want to ping. I’m a wiseguy, so I ping I suggest you ping your telephone service provider’s Web site.
  4. Select the radio button marked “Send an unlimited number of pings.” This keeps the pings going until you stop them.
  5. Use your regular procedure to connect to the Internet via your cell phone.
  6. In the Network Utility window, click Ping. The pings start and the Ping button turns into a Stop button.

You can now do whatever you like on the Internet and take your time doing it. The connection should stay open. When you’re ready to go offline, just quit Network Utility and disconnect.

If someone wants to use the Comments link or form below to explain how to use Ping on a Windows PC, be my guest. I’m sure there are a few people out there who’d like to know.

6 thoughts on “Ping to Keep Your Connection Alive

  1. Another way to do this is to have some kind of client open (e.g. a Twitter client) that’s bringing a bunch of regular updates to you anyway.

    On a mac you can open up Terminal and then use ping from the command line.

  2. Thanks for this info, guys. I did try having Twitterific open, but I guess it just didn’t query the Twitter server often enough — it wasn’t enough activity to keep the connection open.

  3. Pingback: DUN

  4. This works just as well for mobile tethering. (Though probably not great for those on tiered data).

    I would echo Edward Vielmetti, on a mac, this is much more straightforward via Terminal.

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