Traceroute is a popular command used for troubleshooting network routes that a network packet has to travel through. It is not only available in UNIX systems like Linux and MacOS, but is also available for the Windows Operating System. In fact, it is available in it’s own flavor, called Tracert, which is supposedly preinstalled in about all the Windows Systems starting from Windows Vista all the way to Windows 11.
However, there are a few users who have reported that they’re unable to run this utility in their Windows Machine. There could be several reasons as to why this might happen, despite the fact that it comes preinstalled. In this article, we’ll try to help you fix this issue, if you’re facing the problem yourself.
-bourne again shell: tracert: command not found
If you’re coming from Windows and typing the tracert command into bourne again shell for the first time, you’re going to run into this following error message template that bourne again shell likes to print out.
-bourne again shell: tracert: command not found
Or perhaps you’re on a fancy Linux setup that has zsh installed instead of bourne again shell, in which case you could see the following error message:
zsh: command not found: tracert
Usually this error means you need to install the tracert command, either from source code or via a package manager (which is the most common way people use to install programs).
However, in this case tracert is actually NOT a Linux command, but only a Windows command. If you’re looking for the Linux equivalent of tracert, try the traceroute command instead.
Why is tracert not found?
You’re typing the wrong command
One of the common ways for not being able to find the utility is because of typing the wrong command. Yes, I know what I’m saying and am not outta my mind. This issue arises admissible to the fact that the name of the utility in UNIX systems like Linux and MacOS is “traceroute”, while in Windows it is called “tracert”. If you try typing and executing traceroute in the Windows command Prompt, you’ll get the error “no such internal or external command”, as it would be tracert instead.
Likewise, if you type and execute tracert in a UNIX system, it probably won’t work as such a package is not available in those systems. It is also to be noted that they differ in many ways, and don’t provide data the same way either.
Windows Installation not genuine
There are Third-party flavours of Windows that are available to be downloaded, which are not monitored by Microsoft in any way. These third-party flavours tend to trim down a lot of the features that come preinstalled in the genuine Windows installations, to decrease resource usage. However, this comes at the cost of not getting your hands on the default applications that are available otherwise, such as the Microsoft Store, calculator, calendar and so on.
This also means that there are many utilities like tracert that might have been removed under the hood as well, for the fact that not many users actually use these utilities other than professional network managers and engineers, who also have the probability of using some other third-party utilities as well. In such cases, it is possible that your version of Windows (if downloaded from a different website other than Microsoft’s), has the tracert utility removed.
Tracert utility is missing
It does not always have to be that the utility does not come by default. One other possibility is that if you use some sort of anti virus or disk cleaning software, they may remove the tracert utility in case they mark it as not useful. There are programs which offer you to remove unused programs and utilities, and if you opt out to remove them, the utility might get removed.
Path variable is set incorrectly
Besides all the rest, one last reason as to why you might not be able to run the tracert command is due to improper path variable setup to where the tracert utility is stored. In most Windows installations, it is usually located under the “c:\windows\system32” directory. If for some reason, your environment variables aren’t correctly set to include this path, or if it is that the utility is stored somewhere else which the system does not scan for, you might be unable to run the tracert utility.
How to fix tracert command not found
As long as you’re sure that you’re typing the right command, which is tracert in your Windows Command Prompt, but it still isn’t working, the only other way to get it working is to fix the path variable, so as to include the directory where tracert is stored. Follow these steps below:
Click on the Search Icon on the taskbar and search for “Environment Variables”. You should be able to find an option from the control panel that states “Edit environment variables for your account”. Click on Open.
You’ll be presented with the System Properties window. Here, click on “Environment Variables”.
You’ll now get to the “Environment Variables”. Here, what you need to do is to check if the Path Variable Under System Variables contains the path reference to “c:\windows\system32”. First, select the path variable and then click Edit.
The “%SystemRoot%\system32” is what you need to look out for. Here, the systemroot part depicts the directory to “C:\Windows\”. If for some reason, you don’t see this included among the other entries here, you need to include it. If it already exists, there, directly jump to the Extra Steps.
If you don’t find the entry for the destined directory, then first click on the New button, and then type out the following on the input box:
Once done, click on OK, and then quit everything. Lastly, restart your computer for changes to take effect. You should then hopefully be able to run the tracert command.
In case having tried the above mentioned method does not work for you, there are a few things that you may like to consider. As always, first double check whether you’re typing the right command in the command prompt. If you’re sure you’ve typed out the right command, the other thing you’d want to make sure is whether you have the tracert utility under the system32 directory in the first place. If the utility does not exist, the only way for you to get it would be to install a newer, or a more genuine version of WIndows, as the utility is not available for download elsewhere.
There’s a different approach that you can possibly take. This is to use an alternative for the tracert utility, and quite many of them are available right now for Windows out there. Check out the next section to learn more about the alternatives.
Alternatives for Tracert in Windows
There are a number of alternatives available for the Tracert utility in Windows. However, the only downside is that most of them have a GUI, and are not directly run from the command prompt, which could be a problem if you prefer that way. Otherwise, the available alternatives aren’t really that bad. Unfortunately, there’s more sad news. A lot of these alternative programs are paid services.
For this reason, I’d only be including the alternatives that are free on the below list, despite missing out on many features that the paid ones can offer. You can at least breathe peace to find an alternative to the tracert utility, that’ll serve the job without any extra cost whatsoever.
- Open Visual Traceroute → https://visualtraceroute.net/
- WinMTR → https://sourceforge.net/projects/winmtr/
- VisualRoute Lite → http://www.visualroute.com/lite.html
- CountryTraceroute → https://www.nirsoft.net/utils/country_traceroute.html
- NetScanTools Basic → https://www.netscantools.com/freeware.html
Pathping vs Tracert | What’s the difference?
Pathping and tracert commands do serve similar purposes, but with different goals in mind. Tracert, on one hand, helps you find the actual path or IP address that a network packet is traveling through at any given moment, which is shown in Milliseconds. On the other hand, Pathping is responsible for showing you the latency of the packet as well as other informations like how many times the network was lost in between the hops.
In the end, I’m hopeful that you’ve successfully been able to resolve your issue of not being able to execute the tracert utility in Windows. The only common way to fix it in an instance is to follow the path variable fixing method, given that you have the utility under system32 directory. If you’re sure that the utility is there, and that you’ve properly set the path variable, the only two possibilities left is the insertion of the wrong command, or using a trimmed-down version of Windows. If all this mess seems tough for you to handle, the best way you could save yourself both some time and energy is by opting out for a free alternative among the mentioned ones. They have mostly all the features of tracert, and at times even more than you may ever really need.