What Is Traceroute?

Traceroute is a command that runs tools used for network diagnostics. These tools trace the paths data packets take from their source to their destinations, allowing administrators to better resolve connectivity issues. On a Windows machine, this command is called tracert; on Linux and Mac, it’s called traceroute. Traceroute and tracert largely function in the same way—they map the route data takes from one point in a network to a specific IP server. When data is transmitted between two points, it must “hop” through several devices, like switches and routers. Traceroute maps each hop, provides the details and round-trip time (RTT), and gives the device name and IP address where possible.

While ping can tell you if there is a problem, traceroute can help you pinpoint where the problem exists. For an example of how you might use traceroute, imagine you’re visiting a website and its pages are taking a long time to load. In this instance, you can use traceroute to determine where the longest delays are occurring to get to the route of the issue.