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In computer networks, a hop is an intermediate connection in a string of connections linking two devices.
Whenever a router or gateway is an intermediary device between two different and remote hosts, nodes or networks, it is known as a hop.
For example, on the Internet, most data packets need to go through several routers before they reach their final destination. Each time the packet is forwarded to the next router, a hop occurs. The more hops, the longer it takes for data to go from source to destination.
All computer networks are composed of many different nodes. The routing of data among these networks is performed using routing logic via a router. A router not only performs routing of data in toward a network but also maintains information about learned paths of different networks.
In such interconnected networks, network administrators require various network discovery and management tools to better understand the flow of data and its management. Sometimes an administrator would like to know how many gateways occur in between its network and a remote network or website. To ensure end to end communication, the data packet might pass several gateway routers in its path to reach its destination. Each gateway it encounters in its path is known as a hop and their total count is known as a hop count.
Ping, traceroute and Trace Path are popular commands that are used to find the hop (number of gateways) between the source and the destination.