Friday, August 31, 2012

What is a gratuitous ARP?

ARP may also be used as a simple announcement protocol. This is useful for updating other hosts' mapping of a hardware address when the sender's IP address or MAC address has changed. Such an announcement, also called a gratuitous ARP message, is usually broadcast as an ARP request containing the sender's protocol address (SPA) in the target field (TPA=SPA), with the target hardware address (THA) set to zero. An alternative is to broadcast an ARP reply with the sender's hardware and protocol addresses (SHA and SPA) duplicated in the target fields (TPA=SPA, THA=SHA).
An ARP announcement is not intended to solicit a reply; instead it updates any cached entries in the ARP tables of other hosts that receive the packet. The operation code may indicate a request or a reply because the ARP standard specifies that the opcode is only processed after the ARP table has been updated from the address fields.
Many operating systems perform gratuitous ARP during startup. That helps to resolve problems which would otherwise occur if, for example, a network card was recently changed (changing the IP-address-to-MAC-address mapping) and other hosts still have the old mapping in their ARP caches.
Gratuitous ARP is also used by some interface drivers to provide load balancing for incoming traffic. In a team of network cards, it is used to announce a different MAC address within the team that should receive incoming packets.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

So basically, this is used to update arp caches of devices on the network. Thanks.

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