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What is a Traceroute?

Traceroute is a very common feature, which is integrated into most operating systems. It is useful for analyzing network connections.

The traceroute indicates the path of a packet. It follows the path of your host/computer through each of the individual routes that process the package. It also indicates how long it takes to move from one router to another, to its final destination.

How a Traceroute works

When you run the traceroute command, it sends a packet. To do this, it uses the Internet Control Message Protocol or ICMP, and includes a time limit value (time to live or TTL). The first package has a TTL of 1, the second package has a TTL of 2, etc.

By increasing the TTL, the traceroute resets the packet so that you can reach the first, second and other routers on the way to the destination. When a router receives the packet, it sends a Time Exceeded message, which determines the time required for the journey to the router.

Each time a packet is passed to a new router, the TTL is reduced by 1. When it reaches 0, the packet is discarded, and the router sends an error message.

The traceroute determines that the packet has reached the destination by including a port number outside the normal range. When reached, the message Port Unreachable is sent back, defining the duration of the final jump.

The traceroute gives you the information for each step. Each jump is determined three times. When a website is inaccessible or slow, a traceroute lets you see where the connection fails or slows down.

Updated on: 28/04/2023

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