Tracert is a command line tool that shows the “hops” a network packet takes on its way to a destination address. You can type in an IP address or a website URL and watch as a packet is sent from your PC to various routers along the way. If you are having connectivity problems, using the tracert command can help you check the path to the destination IP address or website to see if there is a problem with a router between you and the server.
The tracert command displays the series of routers being used to deliver packets from your PC to the destination. It also tells you how long each hop took. If the packets are unable to be delivered to the destination, the tracert command displays the last router that successfully forwarded your packets.
How can this help you? If you are unable to reach a website, the tracert command will pinpoint where the request failed. For instance, if your request fails before leaving your router, then you know you have a problem with your network. If tracert fails in between or at the destination, then you know the connectivity problems have nothing to do with your setup.
You can run tracert from the command line by going to Start and by typing cmd in the run box and hitting OK. When the command line appears, just type tracert followed by a space, then the IP address or website URL. For example:
There are switches available with the tracert command. To view them, type tracert -? at the command line. Experiment to see which works best for you. If you don’t have Windows, there are a lot of online tracert tools you can use. If you have a better use for tracert, or if you want to tell us about other valuable command line utilities, be sure to let us know.