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Clearing the ARP Cache on Windows

Posted: 2023-08-16
By: dwirch
Viewed: 123

Filed Under:

Tip, Tutorial, Windows, Networking

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ARP, or Address Resolution Protocol, is a protocol used by the Internet Protocol (IP) [specifically IPv4] to map IP network addresses to the hardware addresses used by a data link protocol. The operating system maintains an ARP cache, which is a table that stores IP to MAC address mappings. Occasionally, for troubleshooting or maintenance purposes, it may be necessary to clear this cache. Here’s how you can do it on a Windows machine.

Understanding the ARP Cache

Before diving into the clearing process, it's beneficial to understand the ARP cache's role. Whenever your computer needs to send data to another device on the local network, it uses ARP to find out the device's physical MAC address given its IP address. This mapping is then stored in the ARP cache so that future communications can be quicker without the need to repeatedly ask for the MAC address.

However, there may be situations where the cache might have outdated or wrong entries. Clearing the ARP cache can help in resolving such issues.

Steps to Clear the ARP Cache on Windows

Open the Command Prompt with Administrative Rights:

Windows 10 and earlier:

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. Type "cmd" or "Command Prompt" into the search box.
  3. Right-click on the "Command Prompt" result and choose "Run as administrator."

Windows 11:

  1. Right-click on the Start button.
  2. Choose “Windows Tools”.
  3. Find “Command Prompt”, right-click on it, and choose “Run as administrator”.

View the ARP Cache (Optional)

Before clearing the ARP cache, if you wish to view the entries, type the following command and press Enter:

arp -a

This will display the current ARP entries. You'll see a list of IP addresses and their corresponding MAC addresses.

Clear the ARP Cache

To clear the ARP cache, type the following command and press Enter:

netsh interface ip delete arpcache

Verify the ARP Cache is Empty

Again, run the arp -a command. If the cache was successfully cleared, you should see a message stating "No ARP Entries Found".

Close the Command Prompt

After you’ve cleared the ARP cache and confirmed it's empty, you can close the Command Prompt.

Potential Issues and Solutions

If you run into any permission issues while trying to clear the ARP cache, ensure you're running the Command Prompt as an administrator.

If you notice the ARP cache is filling up quickly with invalid entries, it might indicate a network issue or malicious activity. Ensure that all devices on your network are secure and consider running a malware scan on your devices.

Conclusion

Clearing the ARP cache on a Windows machine is a straightforward process. While it's not something most users will need to do frequently, it's a handy troubleshooting step for network administrators and advanced users to be aware of. Remember always to take caution when making changes or executing commands with administrative privileges.


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