How to Use TRACERT to Troubleshoot TCP/IP Problems in Windows

For a Microsoft Windows 2000 version of this article, see 162326 .


This article describes TRACERT (Trace Route), a command-line utility that you can use to trace the path that an Internet Protocol (IP) packet takes to its destination.

This article discusses the following topics:
  • How to Use the TRACERT Utility
  • How to Use TRACERT to Troubleshoot
  • How to Use TRACERT Options

More Information

How to Use the TRACERT Utility

The TRACERT diagnostic utility determines the route to a destination by sending Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echo packets to the destination. In these packets, TRACERT uses varying IP Time-To-Live (TTL) values. Because each router along the path is required to decrement the packet's TTL by at least 1 before forwarding the packet, the TTL is effectively a hop counter. When the TTL on a packet reaches zero (0), the router sends an ICMP "Time Exceeded" message back to the source computer.

TRACERT sends the first echo packet with a TTL of 1 and increments the TTL by 1 on each subsequent transmission, until the destination responds or until the maximum TTL is reached. The ICMP "Time Exceeded" messages that intermediate routers send back show the route. Note however that some routers silently drop packets that have expired TTLs, and these packets are invisible to TRACERT.

TRACERT prints out an ordered list of the intermediate routers that return ICMP "Time Exceeded" messages. Using the -d option with the tracert command instructs TRACERT not to perform a DNS lookup on each IP address, so that TRACERT reports the IP address of the near-side interface of the routers.

In the following example of the tracert command and its output, the packet travels through two routers ( and to get to host In this example, the default gateway is and the IP address of the router on the network is at

The command:

The output from the command:

Tracing route to over a maximum of 30 hops
1 2 ms 3 ms 2 ms
2 75 ms 83 ms 88 ms
3 73 ms 79 ms 93 ms

Trace complete.

How to Use TRACERT to Troubleshoot

You can use TRACERT to find out where a packet stopped on the network. In the following example, the default gateway has found that there is no valid path for the host on Probably, either the router has a configuration problem, or the network does not exist, reflecting a bad IP address.

The command:

The output from the command:

Tracing route to over a maximum of 30 hops
1 reports: Destination net unreachable.

Trace complete.
TRACERT is useful for troubleshooting large networks where several paths can lead to the same point or where many intermediate components (routers or bridges) are involved.

How to Use TRACERT Options

There are several command-line options that you can use with TRACERT, although the options are not usually necessary for standard troubleshooting.

The following example of command syntax shows all of the possible options:
tracert -d -h maximum_hops -j host-list -w timeout target_host
What the parameters do:

Specifies to not resolve addresses to host names

-h maximum_hops
Specifies the maximum number of hops to search for the target

-j host-list
Specifies loose source route along the host-list

-w timeout
Waits the number of milliseconds specified by timeout for each

Specifies the name or IP address of the target host

Article ID: 314868 - Last Review: Oct 23, 2008 - Revision: 1