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Using the Traceroute (tracert) Command

What is the traceroute command

The Traceroute command (tracert) is a utility designed for displaying the time it takes for a packet of information to travel between a local computer and a destination IP address or domain. The results displayed after running a traceroute command are a list of the 'hops' that data packets take along their path to the designated IP address or domain. This command is commonly associated with the troubleshooting of connection issues.

Run a traceroute (tracert) command using Windows

To use the traceroute command with computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system (XP):

  1. Select Start > Run.
  2. Type 'cmd' then click OK.
  3. Type 'tracert' followed by a space and the domain name or IP address (for example: tracert example.com or tracert 10.0.2.1).
  4. Press the Enter key to run the command.

To use the traceroute command with computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system (Vista, 7):

  1. Open your control panel on your local computer.
  2. Click Programs.
  3. In the 'Programs and Features' window that appears, click the list under 'Turn Windows features on or off' to expand it.
  4. In the list that appears, check the box next to 'Telnet client.'
  5. Click OK.
  6. Select Start > Run.
  7. Type 'cmd' then click OK.
  8. Type 'tracert' followed by a space and the domain name or IP address (for example: tracert example.com or tracert 10.0.2.1).
  9. Press the Enter key to run the command.

Once complete, a 'Trace complete' message will display. To copy the results of the traceroute command:

  1. Right-click the command prompt window, then select Select All.
  2. Press the Enter key to copy this information to your computer's clipboard.
  3. Open a new blank document (using Microsoft Word, Notepad, or a similar program).
  4. Right-click the blank document, then select Paste.

This will insert the copied results of the traceroute command into the document, which can then be saved to your local computer for future troubleshooting purposes.

Run a traceroute command using Mac OSX

To use the traceroute command with computers running the Apple Macintosh operating system (OSX):

  1. Open the Applications folder.
  2. Click Network Utilities.
  3. Select the 'Traceroute' tab.
  4. Enter an IP address or domain name in the text field, then click Trace.

Once complete, a 'Trace complete' message will display. To copy the results of the traceroute command:

  1. While holding down the left mouse button, select and highlight all of the results of the traceroute command that are displayed.
  2. Copy these results by pressing both the Command key () then the C key (or right-click the results then select Copy).
  3. Open a new blank document (using TextEdit, Microsoft Word, or a similar program).
  4. Left-click the blank document, then press both the Command key () then the V key (or right-click the blank page then select Paste).

This will insert the copied results of the traceroute command into the document, which can then be saved to your local computer for future troubleshooting purposes.

Run traceroute in Linux

Traceroute is a basic Linux system utility that's available for nearly all distribution repositories. You first need to install it on your system using the package manager.

Some install examples:

Ubuntu/Debia

$ sudo apt install traceroute

Fedora

# dnf install traceroute

OpenSUSE

# zypper in traceroute

Arch Linux

# pacman -S traceroute

Running traceroute

Run traceroute by typing the command, followed by an IP address or domain name.

$ traceroute yourdomain.com
 

Traceroute works in real-time in your terminal window. You may see a few or many stops before reaching your destination. Some networks are configured to block traceroute, so if the command stops outputting information in your terminal and starts showing asterisk characters that may be the reason. Traceroute can show you if there are any blocks, slow areas, or bottlenecks that need to be improved.

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