beanz Magazine

Traceroute

Honza Soukop on Flickr

A computer command used to diagnose network problems also lets you see how data hops across the internet.

There is a simple way to see traffic jump from one computer to another on the internet: traceroute. It’s a command you type into a command line interface (CLI) software tool to see how your data travels from your computer to a locations you define.

For example, you can see how data travels from your computer to yahoo.com, nytimes.com, bbc.co.uk, or any computer connected to the internet.

Data sent is a packet, a small message that requests information from other computers. Based on responses, your data navigates its way from your computer to your destination. Kind of like climbing up a rock wall one handhold at a time.

At each stop, your data asks some number of computers if they’re connected to your destination. If the answer is yes, traceroute sends your data that way. Responses from each computer upstream is reported back to you in your command line software.

 

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