How to Use TraceRoute on Windows or Linux


If you’re having network connectivity problems, you can run a traceroute to pinpoint exactly where your connection is failing. The traceroute command will provide you with information about your internet connection, website status, and more. Then you can give this information to your technical support representative to resolve your network connectivity issues. Here’s how to run a traceroute on Windows 10 or Ubuntu Linux and how to read your traceroute results.

What Is Traceroute?

Traceroute is a network diagnostic tool that tracks the path of a packet of data as it travels from your computer to a destination over the internet. Running a traceroute lets you see where your connection is slow or unresponsive.

You can think of the traceroute tool like a traffic map of your internet connection. When you run a traceroute, you will see all the “hops,” or routers that three separate packets are pushed through on their way to a destination. It will also show you your network’s latency, or how long it took for each packet to travel from one hop to the next.

How to Run a Traceroute on Windows 10

To run a traceroute on a Windows 10 computer, open the Windows search box and type power into the search bar. Then open the Windows PowerShell app and type in tracert followed by a space and then the destination URL or IP address. Finally, hit Enter.

1.Open the Windows search box. You can do this by clicking the magnifying glass icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen.

2.Then type power in the search bar and click Open Windows PowerShell [ISE].

Open windows powershell

3.Next, type tracert followed by a space and then an IP address or URL. If you just want to test your internet connection, it is a good idea to run a traceroute to or (Google’s DNS server). You can also run a traceroute to the URL of any website or IP address. Just make sure you leave a space after tracert and before the URL or IP address.

4.Finally, press Enter on your keyboard and wait for the traceroute to finish. You will see the words Trace complete when the process is finished. You can also stop a traceroute at any time by pressing the Control + C keys on your keyboard at the same time.

tracert google sample

Note: Microsoft’s implementation of the traceroute tool is slightly different from what you’ll find on Mac/Linux/Unix platforms. The most glaring difference is in the command itself: On Windows PCs, you’ll use the “tracert” command instead of typing the whole word.

How to Read Traceroute Results

To read your traceroute results, look for the round trip time (RTT) in columns two through four. If you see any hops that took a long time or there is an error message in any of the rows, that might be where you have network connectivity problems.

Column 1: This represents the hop number, or the number of hops that the three data packets were pushed through to reach the destination.

Columns 2-4: These show the round trip time measured in milliseconds. RTT represents the time it took for a data packet to travel from the source to the destination and back again. To check for the consistency of the response times, the traceroute command sends three packets to each hop, which is why there are three time values listed per row. RTT values below 100 milliseconds are acceptable. However, if you see RTT values consistently increasing from the middle hop to the destination, it could be due to a network problem.

Column 5: This column shows the name or IP address of the routers on every hop from your computer to the destination. It will also list the domain name of the router, if that information is available.

tracert google dns sample

Traceroute Command Variations

If you are looking for ways to run a traceroute, you can open the Command Prompt app and type tracert /? to see variations you can use.

windows tracert help

How to Run a Traceroute on Linux

Many flavors of Linux come with traceroute pre-installed, although some distributions opt for similar tools like mtr and tracepath. If you do not have trace route installed you may need to install it. For example in Ubuntu the command to install trace route is “sudo apt-get install traceroute”.

$ traceroute  
 Command 'traceroute' not found, but can be installed with: 
 sudo apt install inetutils-traceroute  # version 2:2.2-2, or   
 sudo apt install traceroute            # version 1:2.1.0-2  

From there, the steps aren’t too dissimilar from Windows:

- Open your favorite Terminal Emulator. This step isn’t required if you’re running Linux without a window manager (GUI).

- Type “traceroute” followed by the hostname or IP address you’d like to trace.

- Wait for the trace to complete and review the results.

traceroute google on linux

How to Read Traceroute Results

In the above output:

- The first column is the hop count.

- The second column is the IP address and hostname of each hop. If the hostname cannot be resolved, only the IP address is displayed.

- The third, fourth, and fifth columns display the round-trip times for each packet. If a packet is lostor doesn't reach its destination, an asterisk (*) is displayed.

Traceroute Command Variations

If you are looking for ways to run a traceroute, you can open the Command Prompt app and type traceroute --help to see variations you can use.

traceroute help on linux

Common Traceroute Error Messages

If there is an issue within the network, the traceroute results will also show error commands, which include Request timed out, Destination unreachable, * in RTT columns, and more.

- Request timed out: Seeing this error at the end of the traceroute means that a firewall or a security device might be blocking your request, or there was a problem in the return route. If you see this at the beginning, it’s nothing to worry about as it is a common hop.

- Destination net unreachable: This means that the data packets have stopped traveling within the network. Most of the time, this is because there is a problem with the router or that the website or IP address you are trying to reach is down.

- * in RTT columns: It means the router did not respond to the request within the maximum allotted time of two seconds. It could also mean that the router in the hop was not set up to provide a response to a traceroute request. However, it does not necessarily mean that the packet was dropped. To verify if there was a packet loss, you can ping the IP address of the router where you see the asterisk.

Traceroute FAQ

What is the difference between ping and traceroute?

Ping and traceroute are both network diagnostic tools, but traceroute is a little more complex. Ping will test connectivity between two hosts but gives no information on the path between those two hosts. The traceroute tool, on the other hand, displays all of the intermediate hops between source and destination. This can be useful during intermittent connectivity episodes, for example, if only 50% of the pings between two points are successful.

What about MTR, Tracepath, Paris Traceroute, etc.?

The original traceroute tool, which dates all the way back to 1987, isn’t always able to produce accurate results. Load Balancing, Network Address Translation (NAT), firewalls, and other factors can result in inaccurate or incomplete results. A number of similar tools, such as mtr, and Paris Traceroute, implement the same basic idea as traceroute but attempt to address the classic tool’s shortcomings through various means. Some tools also sought to build on the output and streamline configuration vs the original.

Are tracert and traceroute the same?

Tracert and traceroute perform virtually identical functions, but the underlying code between the two tools is different. Tracert was created by Microsoft for Windows operating systems, while the earlier traceroute is for Unix-based systems. There are slight differences in the default parameters between the two tools, such as the type of packets used.

I want to trace an IPv6 route! What can I do?

You’re in luck! The traceroute6 and tracert6 commands provide the same functionality as traceroute but for IPv6 networks. Many of the similar tools (see above) also have support for IPv6.


You now understand a little bit more about how to use traceroute. Traceroute is a must-have tool if you want to stop network troubleshooting and identify network connection bottlenecks.

Traceroute is a vital tool for network troubleshooting. It allows you to visualize the path your data takes to its destination, helping you identify where problems might be occurring. Whether you're using Windows or Linux, understanding how to use and interpret traceroute can be incredibly useful for diagnosing network issues.