Network tools are essential for solving issues with a computer network that is not performing as it should. There are quite a few things can do to aid in returning a network to its rightful state, and two of those options are Ping and Traceroute.
Both tools are designed to troubleshoot a network, and they work in similar ways. However, in the grand scheme of things, these tools are very different. Now, there are other tools we can use to troubleshoot a bad-performing network, but today, we will only focus on these two.
Ping and Traceroute Network tools
We should point out that on Windows 11/10, Traceroute is known as Tracert, while on Cisco and Unix platforms, the term Traceroute is used instead. However, since networking is more connected to Cisco platforms, we’ve chosen to go with the more common name.
Ping tool in Windows
When it comes down to troubleshooting a network, the Ping tool is the most commonly used. Ping, also known as Packet Internet Groper, is included with almost all operating systems.
To activate it, a ping command is required. From there, it will invoke ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) to report errors and provide important data to IP packet processing.
Now, the way Ping works is quite interesting. First, you will have to specify an IP address, and from there, you must send an ICMP echo request message to that address. Should the destination computer be able to receive the message, it will communicate back with an ICMP echo reply message.
When a Ping command is made, it usually outputs relevant information regarding the network’s performance. You can have an idea of what we’re talking about via the image above.
Tracert Traceroute tool in Windows
In terms of what Traceroute is, well, it is a troubleshooting tool that is based on a command-line interface. The primary purpose of this tool is to determine the path used by a packet to reach its target. In a similar way to Ping, we understand that Traceroute also uses ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) as well.
But where Traceroute differs from Ping where ICMP is concerned is that it pinpoints each router by the path taken by the packets. You see, we believe Traceroute is excellent for troubleshooting network problems because it is better able to detect the exact location of the problem.
How Traceroute identifies all routers in its path: The troubleshooting tool tends to send a bunch of ICMP echo packets message requests to a particular destination. Now, the first couple of messages have a Time to Live (TTL) limit set to 1. This means the first router in the path will make a move to discard the packet and deliver an ICMP Time Exceeded message.
Finally, the TTL parameter is increased by 1 until the destination host is reached and the ICMP echo reply message is accepted. From there, the original host can now easily use the received ICMP messages to identify all routers in a path.
What about Traceroute on Unix operating systems?
The command works a bit differently when compared to Windows operating systems. It takes advantage of the UDP package along with a vast destination port along the lines of 33434 to 33534. These port numbers are unlikely to be used by any application located at the destination host.