Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Ask a Question

How to run a traceroute and why

No ratings

How to run a traceroute and why

What is a traceroute?
Put simply, a traceroute will display the path from your home connection to the server you’re communicating with as well as the speed between each point on that path. The speed is displayed in milliseconds, and shows how many milliseconds it takes your data to move between each server as it makes its way to the website or server you need to communicate with.

Why would I run a traceroute?
If you’re experiencing difficulty accessing certain sites or playing specific games online, then a traceroute will help identify if there’s a problem in the way your data is being routed and at which point it occurs. This helps our Tech Support teams identify if the issue is something Optus can help you resolve, or if you’ll need to contact the provider of the website or game you’re trying to access.


How to run a trace route in Windows
These instructions should work for versions of Windows from XP and later.


  1. Open the Command Prompt. Access this via start menu > all programs > accessories and select “command prompt” or simply type “cmd” into the search bar.
  2. A black box will open that’ll look like it belongs in a computer from the 80’s or 90’s. Here you’ll want to type “tracert <address to trace>” and then hit enter. In this example we’re running a trace to as per the example below:How to run a traceroute CMD exmaple.png
  3. Once you hit enter the trace will run and the results will be displayed in front of you.How to run a traceroute CMD example expanded.png

To get it into a text version, right click on the results and click on Select All. Hit CTRL + C to copy and then paste the text where needed.

How to run a trace route on MAC

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal or Spotlight > type “Terminal”.
  2. Type “traceroute <address to trace>” (e.g. “traceroute” without the quotation marks) and hit enter.
  3. The results will be displayed once the test completes.


How to run traceroute on Linux

  1. Open a terminal window of some sort - eg xterm
  2. Type “traceroute <address to trace>” (e.g. “traceroute” without the quotation marks) and hit enter.
  3. The results will display immediately.

Note that for both Linux and Mac you use the full command "traceroute" while in windows it is an abreviation - "tracert".  Getting them mixed up will cause it to not work.


Understanding the results of a trace route

  1. You’ll notice the term “hop” when your traceroute is running. Each hop in your traceroute is when your data is transferred through a server. By default, a maximum of 30 hops will be traced.
  2. Assuming the trace is able to complete, the last hop listed will be the destination you entered at the beginning.
  3. Each hop will show 3 latency times, measured in milliseconds (ms). The average of these 3 times is the latency for that server.
  4. After the latency times you’ll find the servers domain and/or IP address. Generally you’ll be able to look up a specific IP address online to get a better idea of the location if you’re interested.
  5. You’ll find in some cases instead of a latency time you’ll have a “*” instead with “request timed out” displayed at the end. This is due to that specific server ignoring the data being sent as part of the traceroute but this doesn’t mean the data was dropped - that server just didn’t respond to the traceroute with ping times.

So put simply, each hop in your traceroute represents the time it takes for your data to be sent from one server to another. If you find that on one specific hop the latency spikes and jumps higher, it could mean there’s a specific problem with that server. This is particularly helpful to narrow down the cause of specific problems e.g. high ping times when gaming or difficulty accessing some websites but not others.


Labels (3)
Version history
Revision #:
5 of 5
Last update:
‎22-01-2019 10:15 AM
Updated by: