Traceroute - A Great Diagnostic Tool On Every PC and MAC

Traceroute or “Tracert” is a command line utility that measures the speed and the route that the data takes to a reach a destination server.

Traceroute will send several test data packets to the destination server and will record each router that it goes throughand the time it takes to reach the destination server.

Each router can be owned by a different network provider.

Each router is known as a “Hop” and the data will have to go through many “Hops” on its journey to the destination server.

Traceroute is a useful tool for diagnosing network problems, most often speed issues. 

For example, if your remote desktop is slow to respond, then it might mean that there is a network problem somewhere between you and the desktop. 

Browsing may be fine, but because the amount of traffic flow is substantially different to that of a web browser, and the route taken will be different, this may not be a clear indication that all is well with the line connection to your desktop.

Open a Command Prompt window

From your local PC, NOT the remote desktop, open a Command Prompt window to use the “tracert” command.

This is also available for Mac users in the Terminal.

The process is slightly different depending upon which version of Windows you are using.

Windows Vista and Windows 7



All other versions of Windows

Click Start, then Run. A new text box will appear. Enter cmd into this box and click OK.




This example will demonstrate how to perform a “tracert” for and explain the output that you will see.

To perform a trace open a Command Prompt window as above, and enter the following, and press <enter> on your keyboard.


The trace may take a few moments to complete.



Tracing route to []...

1    	<1ms   <1ms   <1ms []
2    	20ms   20ms   20ms []	
3    	19ms   19ms   19ms []
4    	19ms   19ms   20ms []
5    	29ms   24ms   25ms []
6    	24ms   21ms   21ms []
7    	29ms   19ms   19ms []
8    	22ms   21ms   22ms []
9    	25ms   25ms   27ms []
10     32ms   31ms   31ms   []	
11     33ms   32ms   31ms   []	
12     33ms   32ms   32ms []
13    *   *	*	 		
14    *   *	*
15    *   *	*		Request Timed Out
16    *   *	*		Request Timed Out

What does the output mean?

There are 5 columns.

  • Hop Count
  • Three packets of data columns
  • Name of the router and ipaddress

1 <1ms <1ms <1ms []

Traceroute will actually send three packets of data, and measure the time taken for each. 

At hop 1 you can see that each packet took less than a millisecond, (<1 ms ) This is normally your local network and Internet router. You would expect any packet on your local network to take less than 1 millisecond to reach your router.

You can see that the server at hop 1 is called, and its address on the Internet is

We have seen slowness happen when anything greater than 40-50ms is seen at multiple hops

A real customer trace was recently taken recently when slowness on the desktop was seen.

(Addresses have been removed to protect the customer location)


Tracing route to [] over a maximum of 20 hops: 
1    <1 ms    <1 ms    <1 Local.Router 
2   303 ms   308 ms   309 ms  
3   390 ms   354 ms   367 ms  
4   265 ms   375 ms   405 ms  
5   384 ms   357 ms   343 ms  
6   291 ms   341 ms   411 ms  
7   448 ms   549 ms   287 ms 
8   123 ms    79 ms   223 ms  
9   348 ms   367 ms   373 ms  
10   464 ms   495 ms   546 ms  
11   408 ms   473 ms   287 ms  
12   401 ms   421 ms   435 ms  
13   501 ms   585 ms   525 ms  
14   309 ms   277 ms   190 ms  
15   663 ms   527 ms   372 ms [] 
16     *        *        *     Request timed out.
17     *        *        *     Request timed out.
18     *        *        *     Request timed out.
19     *        *        *     Request timed out.
20     *        *        *     Request timed out.

As you can see the 1st hop is the internal router (less than 1 millisecond) and then the lag on each hop indicates a line issue.


What does Request timed out mean?

Hop number 16 onwards shows no response or “Request timed out”

 This is because the server at those hops is not accepting Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) traffic. As this is what traceroute uses to get the results. 

A Request timed out message is usually nothing to worry about, as many network providers may disable ICMP traffic.


Destination net unreachable

Traceroute can detect if a packet has been stopped on the network. If this occurs you will see the error Destination net unreachable. This error is often caused by a misconfiguration in someone’s router settings, or an IP address that doesn't exist.


You can use “tracert” to diagnose line connection issues by running the command as described above or by downloading our “trace,bat” file, which will run this command and output to a test file for you.

Unzip the contents to your LOCAL PC’s desktop NOT TRISYS and run, the output filename is “trace.txt”.

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