Differences Between Traceroute & Tracepath

By Harvey Birdman

Tracepath and traceroute are very similiar network mapping commands. The main difference between the two is that you need to be a superuser on a Linux computer to use traceroute, whereas tracepath can be run without this credential. On a Windows PC, any user with command line access can use both diagnostic tools. Traceroute supports a set of more customizable search parameters; however, some commercial IP routers do not support these advanced options, so the advantage is limited.

TracePath

Tracepath traces a path to a designated network address, reporting on the "time to live" or TTL lag and maximum transmission units (MTU) along the way. This command can be run by any user other with access to the command line prompt.

Traceroute Basics

Traceroute is essentially the same as Tracepath except that by default, it will only give the TTL value. If you want additional data, you must request those variables on the command line. Also, traceroute requires superuser access to run the command on a Linux box, and some advanced data requests may not be supported by all of the routers along the path. In a Windows environment, any user with access to the command line can run Traceroute.

Advanced Traceroute Commands

One advanced command available in Traceroute is the ability to run a network trace using IPv4 or IPv6 protocol. It is also possible to choose between ICMP, TCP or UDP data formats for a probe. Traceroute can choose specific source routings for the probe and choose what port to send from. It can set limits on the minimum and maximum TTL to accept from an outbound probe. IN addition, Traceroute can show the wait time for response pings as well as set how many packets are send in each probe and how many probes to send. Some of these commands may not be supported by networking hardware along the path, which could terminate the probe before it reaches its target destination.