How to Trace the Number of Hops in a Windows Environment

Using the tracert Command in Windows to Trace Network Hops

In today’s interconnected world, understanding the path your data takes from your computer to its destination is crucial. Whether you’re troubleshooting network issues or simply curious about the journey of your data packets, knowing how to trace the number of hops between your computer and a target server is invaluable. In a Windows environment, this can be easily achieved using the tracert command. This blog post will guide you through the process of using tracert to find out how many hops your data takes to reach its destination.

What is a Hop?

A hop refers to each step or point that data passes through on its way from the source to the destination. Each hop is typically a router or a gateway. The more hops your data takes, the longer it might take to reach its destination, and each hop can potentially introduce latency.

The tracert Command

tracert (short for “trace route”) is a diagnostic tool available in Windows that traces the path data packets take from your computer to a specified destination. It lists all the intermediary steps (hops) along the way, including each router’s IP address and the round-trip time (RTT) for each hop.

How to Use tracert

  1. Open Command Prompt:
  • Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog.
  • Type cmd and press Enter to open the Command Prompt.
  1. Run the tracert Command:
  • In the Command Prompt window, type the following command and press Enter:
    shell tracert [hostname or IP address]
  • Replace [hostname or IP address] with the target you want to trace, such as or an IP address.

Example Usage

Let’s say you want to trace the route to You would type:


The output will look something like this:

Tracing route to []
over a maximum of 30 hops: 1 1 ms 1 ms 1 ms 2 10 ms 9 ms 9 ms 3 20 ms 19 ms 19 ms 4 30 ms 29 ms 29 ms
Trace complete.

Understanding the Output

  • Hop Count: Each line represents a hop. In the above example, there are 4 hops.
  • Round-Trip Time (RTT): The times shown (in milliseconds) represent the time it takes for a packet to travel to the hop and back to your computer. Multiple times indicate retries.
  • IP Addresses: Each hop’s IP address is displayed. Sometimes, you may see hostnames if they are resolvable.

Common Uses of tracert

  • Network Troubleshooting: Identify where delays or failures occur in the network.
  • Performance Analysis: Assess the efficiency of the route data takes.
  • Educational Purposes: Understand the structure and functioning of the internet.

Tips for Using tracert

  • Maximum Hops: By default, tracert will try up to 30 hops. You can specify a different number using the -h parameter. For example:
 tracert -h 20
  • Save Output: Save the output to a file for further analysis by redirecting the output:
 tracert > trace.txt


The tracert command is a powerful tool for anyone looking to understand the path their data takes across the internet. By revealing each hop along the way, it provides insights into the structure and performance of the network. Next time you’re troubleshooting a network issue or simply curious about your data’s journey, give tracert a try!