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What is a Traceroute?

A traceroute is a diagnostic test that you perform from your Windows, Mac, or Linux device. The traceroute results reveal the path across the network (Internet) that data takes from your device to its intended destination.

Typically, that intended destination is a web server. Traceroutes are performed to help identify why a website is slow or unresponsive.

What is Traceroute?

Traceroute on Windows

You can perform a traceroute in Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. Here’s the process:

  • Click the Windows icon and type “cmd”
  • Click the “Command Prompt” link or icon
  • Type “tracert” followed by the domain name that you want to trace to. Hit the “Enter” key on your keyboard
  • The traceroute will run and the results will be displayed

Traceroute on a Mac

On a Mac, you can use two methods to trace route:

Using Terminal

  1. Use the Spotlight Search function and launch the Terminal (/Applications/Utilities)
  2. Type traceroute, followed by a space, then the domain name for which you want to run a traceroute
  3. Press Enter

Using Network Utility

  1. Use Command+Spacebar and launch Network Utility
  2. Head over to the CoreServices folder (/System/Library/CoreServices/Applications/)
  3. You may access this folder by going to Finder > Go > “Go to Folder”
  4. Select Traceroute
  5. Enter a domain name
  6. Click Trace

Traceroute on Linux

Getting to the traceroute utility on a Linux device differs based on which distribution you are currently running. Generally, the process to access it is more or less the same way you would access it on a Windows device.

You’ll usually type the full name, traceroute, rather than the Windows name, tracert. So for example:
# traceroute ggexample.com
If traceroute is not available in your Linux installation, you may have to install it.
Some Linux distributions require you to specify the protocol after -I:
# traceroute -I ICMP example.com