How to Perform a Netsh Winsock Reset

Repair Windows network problems with this command

You can reset Winsock if you’re having networking problems on your Windows computer. All you need to do is run a simple Command Prompt command to revert the Winsock Catalog back to its default settings.

Winsock (Windows Socket) is the term used by Windows to describe the data on the computer that programs use to access the network. For a program to go online, it must use Windows Socket.

A netsh Winsock reset is a common troubleshooting step for networking issues. For most people, resetting Winsock shouldn’t pose any additional problems, but before heading into the steps for a netsh Winsock reset, let’s first look at when and why you’d do it, and what will actually happen when you run the command.

These instructions for resetting Winsock apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

When to Do a Winsock Reset

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The most common reason to perform a Winsock reset in Windows is when you can’t access websites that you could access before. You internet connection might seem completely stable — Wi-Fi is strong or the cable is plugged in — but you can’t view any web pages.

A Winsock reset can also be helpful if you’re having internet connection problems in these situations:

What Does Netsh Winsock Reset Do?

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Why does a Winsock reset work? With so many different ways the network can quit working properly, what makes a simple netsh Winsock reset command do the trick? You run it once and all of a sudden Chrome or Firefox works again!

In short, a Winsock reset will undo configurations made to the Winsock Catalog in Windows. Changes can be made by networking programs like a web browser or VPN program.

A Winsock reset sets the wsock32 DLL file back to its default settings. When Winsock is reset, the programs that used it and that showed networking errors — like your web browser or email client — get a fresh start at connecting to TCP/IP traffic.

In other words, if the DLL is malformed somehow, then resetting it to a clean version will also reset how these networking programs reach the internet, and you’ll get access again.

So, if malware, a Windows glitch, a software program, etc., hijacks this mechanism, it can break access to the internet. Since the way this works is through a layering technique to stack various providers (called Layered Service Providers, or LSPs) on top of each other, the more you have, the more likely there is for a problem to occur.

Resetting Winsock deletes all these custom providers’ layers and returns the Winsock Catalog to its default state. Because of this, it’s important to realize that a netsh Winsock reset will break functionality in some programs, so you might end up having to reconfigure some of your software to make them work normally again after the reset.

Advanced users can run netsh winsock show in Command Prompt before resetting the Winsock Catalog to see which LSPs are installed.

Netsh Winsock Reset Directions

All you need to run this netsh command is Command Prompt, which is available in Windows 10 down through Windows XP.

The netsh command works in Windows XP only if the installed service pack is version 2 or 3. Learn which service pack you have installed if you're not sure, and download Windows XP SP2 or SP3 if you have to.

  1. Type this command then press Enter:

    netsh winsock reset

    The command should return a message like the following:

    Successfully reset the Winsock Catalog.
    You must restart the computer in order to complete the reset.

    If you see a different message after running the command, check Device Manager for disabled network adapters, and enable them. Also install any missing network drivers.

  2. If Windows isn't working properly and you can't restart normally through the user interface, another option is to use the shutdown /r command.

  3. After restarting, confirm that the problem has gone away.

How Often Can You Do This?

There probably isn't anything wrong with running the Winsock reset command as often as you need to, but it's not normal to have to do it more than just a few times throughout the entire life of your computer. Having to do it more often than that points to an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

Take special note of the software you're installing and when you're experiencing network errors. Knowing when you encounter a problem will help tremendously in figuring out the cause.

It's also vital to keep an antivirus program running on your computer at all times to catch infections that could be causing Winsock related errors.

If all else fails, a full system reinstall should do the trick if you have nowhere else to turn in fixing the network issue. However, a Windows reinstall should definitely be the last step.