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How to run a Traceroute on Mac

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Sometimes you may have trouble accessing certain websites or can’t connect at all. If this happens, you might first think to contact your internet provider and ask them about the problem. You can also do some research on your computer to find the cause. To find out why your internet is slowing down, here’s how you can run a traceroute from a Mac.

What is Traceroute?

Traceroute is a command-line utility that can be used to troubleshoot network connectivity problems. It acts as a map showing you the data path from your computer to the internet and where it stops.

Your data travels from your computer to your router every time you visit a website. This data then travels to other routers or servers around the globe. A hop is the name for each time your data is sent out to a new router. A traceroute allows you to see the hops and the time it takes between them. You will be able to identify the source of network problems.

A traceroute can be run on your Mac to determine your network latency. Latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel from your Mac to a website, or server. If you are only concerned about network latency, check out our step-by-step guide on Google DNS servers. You can also type traceroute hellotech.com to check your connection to this website.

Next, hit Enter on the keyboard. After the numbering traceroute results are complete, you will see the name of your Mac.

How to read your Traceroute results on a Mac

Look for the round trip times (RTTs), in each hop, to read traceroute results. Hops exceeding 100 milliseconds may indicate a network problem. To find out where your connection is dropping off, you should also look for error messages.

Your Mac’s Traceroute results will be broken down into multiple rows and three columns.

  • The number hops: In the first column of your traceroute result, you will see how many routers were able to be accessed by the traceroute command. Your local router will be the first row. This usually has an IP address beginning with 192.168, or 10.0. Next, you will find routers from smaller ISPs or larger Tier 1 ISPs. These can process your request close to the source. The destination web server will be the final row.
  • Domain name The second column shows the URL and IP addresses of the router through which your request was sent. It may include three-letter airport codes or geographical codes that will help identify the router’s exact location. Sometimes it will just indicate the router’s IP address.
  • Round trip Times:Round trip times (RTT), are indicated in the third through fifth columns. RTT is a measure of how long it takes for your request to travel to its destination. RTT indicates how reliable and fast your network connection is. You will see three RTTs in the traceroute results. This is because traceroute commands each hop three times to measure the average RTT.

 

There might be different RTTs for hops. If they exceed 150ms, however, there is no reason to be concerned. Hops that take longer than 150ms can be indicative of a network problem.

You might also notice a high RTT during the first hops. This could be due to an issue in your local network. To confirm the problem, contact your local network administrator.

Common Traceroute Error Messages

Traceroute results can also indicate an issue in your network. These include Request timed-out, three asterisks in RTT columns and Destination net unreachable.

  • Three asteroids (* * *),It is not an issue if the problem occurs at the beginning of middle hops. As long as all other hops are completed successfully. If it happens at the destination server, but does not display the IP address or the server name, this is an indication of an issue. This could be caused by a network outage or congestion, or a firewall interfering with traffic to your router.
  • Destination network unreachable This indicates that a packet was lost on the network. This could be due to misconfigured router settings, or an inexistent IP address.
  • Request Timed out: If you don’t see this message within the first hop, you can ignore them. Some routers do not respond to traceroute requests. If it occurs in the last few hops it could be due to a firewall blocking the request at destination, a problem with the return route or a system-related problem.
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