System and network administrators know, and appreciate, the tracert (Windows OS) or traceroute (Linux/Mac OS) tool. They know that with this command, they can spot and identify issues with their networks or the devices that are connected to them.
But, apart from using the command-line interfaces (CLI) on your computer, we have a collection of alternative traceroute solutions that make it easier to use this tool.
Here is our list of the best traceroute alternatives:
- SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset EDITOR’S CHOICE A powerful, multi-featured network monitoring tool that not only offers traceroute capabilities but numerous other features that can help an administrator take control of the network.
- Open Visual Traceroute Free alternative that presents the output in 3D maps for easier comprehension; it works on any operating system and is easy enough for even non-tech savvy users to operate.
- PingPlotter Free network monitoring and route analysis tool; it comes in various editions that cater to all requirements from individual devices to corporate networks and even Cloud Computing.
- Paessler Network Monitoring Suite of tools that give full control of a network to the administrator; the traceroute feature works in collaboration with the other tools which helps in getting a deeper insight into the current state of a network’s health.
- Path Analyzer Pro Light, no-nonsense traceroute tool that delivers quickly and presents its findings in a clear comprehensible format; it comes with other network troubleshooting tools too.
- NetScanTools This suite of tools packs a heavy punch when it comes to network traffic data analysis; it has tools that help administrators truly understand their network.
Three online traceroute alternatives
- KeyCDN Although primarily a Content Delivery Network system provider, they have an impressive traceroute tool that bends over backward to make sure you get the information you need.
- Uptrends Website monitoring solution provider; their traceroute tool also lets you choose from a selection of cities too.
- GeoTraceroute Online traceroute tool that is fast and displays the whole route on a realistic globe.
Why use traceroute?
Administrators use the traceroute command to find out information about their networks and devices that include:
- Trace the Route and map out the network
- See the hops a packet has to make before it reaches its destination
- Find out if there is a “break” in the network or if a device is “dropping” packets
- Gauge the speed of each hop between devices to troubleshoot latency or jitter issues
Depending on the results or input they get from traceroute, the admins can now make the correct decisions and take actions to remedy the issues.
How does traceroute work?
When you run the traceroute command it sends out three UDP packets towards the destination host. As soon as it encounters a network device an echo is sent back to the origin host which indicates a “hop” has been encountered. The round-trip time (RTT) is registered which lets you know how long it took for the packets to reach each device.
This process is repeated all along the way, with each hop resulting in information about the device and how long it took to reach it until the destination host is reached.
By the time the destination host has been reached, the administrator will have built a clear picture of the path that packets traverse to reach it. The admin will also know if there is a connection problem (when the packets are dropped and no reply is sent back) or latency (when it takes too long for the “echo” to return to the origin host).
Why do I need a traceroute alternative?
Ok; we have just seen that traceroute is indeed a powerful tool in an administrator’s arsenal. But, running the command over and over will soon become a tedious undertaking – especially in a large, corporate networking environment. Why would anyone want to waste time typing in CLI commands when there are application suites and websites to do the whole thing, and more, with a click of a button or two?
Besides, it would look more professional if admins were to run these powerful suites of traceroute tools that can:
- Perform more efficiently than CLI commands
- Save time because they use threads instead of locking on to a single execution
- Deliver accurate information in real-time, round the clock
- Report their findings in clear, more understandable, and aesthetical formats
But, let’s not forget that there are online web applications or websites that also do a great traceroute job. We will see them after the six best traceroute alternatives.
The best traceroute alternatives
Apart from the traceroute tool, SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset has several additional network troubleshooting features that further enhance the results – and usefulness – of each scan.
The traceroute reports are detailed, informative, and very aesthetic. The domain names and response times are displayed for each hop and represented in tables that can be easily comprehended or analyzed on their RTT, DNS, last boot times, or locations.
But, and like we’ve said, apart from troubleshooting hops and latency issues, SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset gives administrators even more detailed insights into their networks’ current situation with features like:
- Traffic Generator – this tool creates a packet flood to simulate a network overload to see how the architecture, and the devices on it, performs in a traffic-intensive scenario
- MAC Address Scanner – admins can account for every device that is on their network and use the information to see if any are online without authorization
- Open Port Scanner – they can also find out which ports are open on your network and close them before they are compromised
- Bandwidth Gauge – admins can trace if there are any bottlenecks or bandwidth drops before they cause network slowdowns
- Subnetting Tool – they can quickly configure and reconfigure your network by using this tool for an optimized network
- View and Edit Configurations – you don’t need to log in to a Cisco switch or router to configure it when you have Engineer’s Tools at your disposal
- Edit passwords – you can take it a step further and even decrypt Cisco router passwords when you have forgotten them or the admin has quit on you
These are only a few of the numerous features that you can expect from this superb network monitoring tool.
The Traceroute Tool is part of SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset – a bundle of tools that can confidently be described as the Swiss Army Knife of network troubleshooting tools. More than enough tools to troubleshoot most issues and well worth considering if it is within your budget.
Start 14-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/engineers-toolset/traceroute
OS: Windows 7 or later, Windows Server 2012 or later
2. Open Visual Traceroute
With Open Visual Traceroute, we get a free and open-source tool that displays network routes and hops in detailed maps and graphs that are easy enough for even a novice user to understand and work with.
For one, it works on all popular operating system platforms – Windows, Linux, and Mac – which makes it the choice tool in mixed networking environments. Also, in case of resource scarcity or there is an inability to run 3D maps, Open Visual Traceroute can be run with less resource-intensive 2D maps.
It also offers more network troubleshooting features like a network packet sniffer for the identification of the data that is on a network and WhoIs to help query for information about domains.
For tech experts who expect more from the traceroute tool, they can download the source code for further customization.
PingPlotter gives you the clearest window you could ask for when you need real-time insights into your network.
This traceroute tool is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, and iOS devices. PingPlotter collects end-to-end data and plots important diagnostic insights on detailed graphs. It works faster than any other solution out there, which helps in taking immediate action based on informed decisions.
PingPlotter uses both Ping and traceroute; this means issues like latency, jitter, or packet loss are displayed for each hop in a route making it easy to immediately pinpoint connectivity problems. The tool can be configured to trigger automated actions.
Despite such functionalities, PingPlotter has a tiny footprint. This is because it uses a software-based agent which allows it to be up and running and start collecting evidence and performance metrics, in mere minutes.
It is easy to collaborate with colleagues who also use this tool; whole teams can monitor hundreds of devices at once. It even helps with troubleshooting and resolving issues that remote work-from-home users may be having.
There are three versions of PingPlotter: Standard Edition, Professional Edition, and Cloud Edition. PingPlotter Cloud lets admins share live test results via URLs, show live proof, and talk through any issues. It only tests the network connections without sifting through or snooping on, user data or network traffic making it safe and non-invasive.
Download a 14-day FREE trial version of PingPlotter Professional.
4. Paessler Network Monitoring Tool
Paessler is one of the bigger players in the network monitoring and management tools market. They have numerous impressive and powerful solutions that cover architectures from personal computers up to cloud servers. PRTG Network Monitor is one such remarkable tool.
It is a comprehensive tool for system monitoring that employs several techniques to map and monitor networks and their connected devices. It is this constant monitoring that automates the traceroute task for administrators who can also configure it to receive alerts in case there is an issue.
In other words, they don’t need to “run” any command; they just add a sensor to start monitoring the network.
PRTG has various sensors that perform various tasks. The Traceroute Hop Count Sensor is responsible for tracing packets on the network to find out if there are any changes in configuration or if any devices are offline.
Also, PRTG has the ability to monitor the performance of web services and applications. The tool also extends its visibility to remote sites. This means admins can control several sites from one dashboard.
The results from traceroute polls can be used in collaboration with other monitoring sensors’ data for better troubleshooting and issue resolution.
You can try the FREE Unlimited Version of Paessler PRTG Network Monitor for 30 days (following which the tool reverts to the free version).
5. Path Analyzer Pro
Administrators looking for a no-nonsense traceroute tool that works quickly and reports its findings in concise, yet informative, presentation formats will be delighted with Path Analyzer Pro.
This traceroute tool is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems and platforms.
Once it starts running traceroute, it displays the route taken and includes information like the IP addresses, hostnames, average latency, and standard deviation for each device in a hop. A graph plots the route out in a way that makes it clear where the delays occur. Users can zoom in and out for clearer views. Once they are satisfied with what they see, they can print or export the reports for offline analysis.
Of course, Path Analyzer Pro has other tools that can further help with network traffic analysis: path discovery, WhoIs, firewall detection, geo-location, and network testing. Users can even trace email addresses for forensic analysis.
This charming little traceroute tool is pleasant to work with, is easy to install and use, and it delivers results quickly – it has too tiny a digital footprint to even be noticed.
You can download and try Path Analyzer Pro for free.
Although they say they created NetScanTools Pro “with Network Administrators, Network Engineers or Technicians or Training Instructors in mind,” users will realize that this tool is really powerful enough to be applied in the use of penetration testing or even Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) gathering on a network. In other words, hackers can use it to gain insight into your network.
But, getting back to the traceroute capabilities of this tool; it is included in all versions of this network analysis tool. The feature uses ICMP, TCP, or UDP protocols to trace the routes taken by packets and works with both TCP IPv4 and IPv6.
It also gathers statistics about packet loss and timing and displays it all, in real-time, on easy-to-comprehend charts. Admins can combine this information with data from IP scans and sweeps to find out if there are any latency or jitter issues on the network.
But that’s not all; there are even more tools that help administrators take control of their network’s performance and security: WhoIs and DNS querying, email address verification, stress testing capabilities by generating and flooding packets, and much more.
Although this tool is only available for the Windows operating system, it really would be worth the investment to get a computer or even a virtual machine and use it.
The best online traceroute alternatives
It is a matter of convenience when it comes to using online traceroute tools: you simply enter an IP address or domain name and wait for the results to be plotted in charts or maps.
But, also remember: the disadvantage of relying on online traceroute tools is that you have no control over them – it is here today and could be gone tomorrow.
So, let’s now have a look at the online versions of the traceroute tool. Some of the best websites out there are:
This content delivery network (CDN) service provider has a dedicated page for their Traceroute Test Tool.
Users can simply enter the URL of a website or an IP address to start the traceroute process. What makes this traceroute tool stand out from the others is that the report you get shows the results of tests performed from various locations around the world including Amsterdam, Sydney, Singapore, and Bangalore, to name a few.
This way, admins can see the user experience (UX) their clients would have if they were to connect to them from any part of the world.
This traceroute tool comes to us from Uptrends, a website monitoring service provider that knows the value of keeping hop times low. Just like any similar tool, this tool gives details of packet hops and the times of each of their three RTTs.
But, that’s not all; here too administrators can choose the countries they want the tests to be run from with option cities including far-fetched cities like Auckland, Guadalajara, Harlem, and Honolulu.
Anyone who lands on this little website will immediately feel like a kid in a toy store. It is a charming website that makes you want to start route-testing immediately.
GeoTraceroute is a tool for that one quick time you need to make sure your host device is available for users in countries like Austria, Belgium, Germany, or New Zealand. It is fun looking at the places the packets go through on the interactive globe, but what is really fun is the statistics telling you exactly how far the two servers are in real life via “Path/real distance.”