An extensively used internet operations tool, introduced in 1993,  traceroute attempts to determine the hop-by-hop routing connectivity between two Internet addreses, or shed light on where connectivity fails. It is often used as a way to estimate network performance, but the user must know its limitations for this purpose, and how to interpret sometimes subtle anomalies. For example, the sum of hop-by-hop delays between two points may differ from the delay reported by the ping tool, because both ping and traceroute use different protocols, and router designers handle these differently.
Theory of operation
Factors influencing results
- G. Malkin (January 1993), Traceroute Using an IP Option, Internet Engineering Task Force, RFC1393
- Richard Steenbergen (25 January 2009), Tutorial: How to Accurately Interpret Traceroute Results, North American Network Operators Group