How (and Why) to Perform a netsh winsock reset on Windows

Closeup of a human hand connecting an ethernet cable to a router
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Problems with your internet connection can be frustrating to live with, and difficult to diagnose. It is possible that a problem with Winsock is responsible. Luckily, resetting Winsock is simple.

Why You Might Need to Reset Winsock

Winsock is an application programming interface (API) that works between applications, like a web browser, and underlying communication protocols, like TCP/IP. Winsock stores settings important to how those applications and communications interact in a database usually referred to as the Winsock Catalog.

It is possible for the Winsock catalog to become corrupted by malware, or by accident. Regardless of how the corruption happens, applications on one PC will probably fail to connect to the internet. You’ll might see vague, unhelpful messages informing you that your application was “unable to connect,” or you might see more specific error messages pertaining to sockets.

If other devices on your network are experiencing connection issues, you should try troubleshooting your modem and router first.

How to Reset Winsock

Fortunately, resetting Winsock is usually easier than accurately diagnosing most Winsock problems.

Click Start, type “cmd” into the search bar, and click “Run as administrator.” Windows PowerShell will also work, and you can use it if you prefer. Just remember to run it as administrator.

On Windows 11, feel free to launch the Windows Terminal application instead. (But again, just be sure to run it as administrator.)

In Command Prompt, type netsh winsock reset. If it works, you’ll see the message “Successfully reset the Winsock Catalog. You must restart the computer in order to complete the reset.”

Successfully reset Winsock in Command Prompt

After you reset Winsock, you must restart your computer. Since a command-line window is already open with administrative privileges, type  shutdown /r /t 0 into the prompt, and then hit Enter. Your computer will restart immediately, so remember to save any work before running that command.

Try the applications or services that were experiencing problems once your computer has restarted. If it isn’t working, you should try some other troubleshoot steps.