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ARP vs RARP | difference between ARP and RARP

This page on ARP vs RARP describes difference between ARP and RARP.It covers ARP request and ARP response and ARP commands along with difference between various networking terms.

As we know that Source computer(i.e. host) must know ethernet address or physical address of the destination network adapter to send the IP data. Hence ARP and RARP protocols are very important as they convert IP address to the physical address and vice versa.

ARP stands for Address Resolution Protocol and RARP stands for Reverse Address Resolution Protocol. ARP convert IP address to physical address(i.e. ethernet address). RARP convert physical address to the IP address.

Though these protocols are existing it is invisible to the user as TCP/IP internally uses these protocols to send the IP packet from one computer to the other connected on the network.

Each host on the network maintains ARP table. This table has entries of physical address with respect to IP addresses of the other hosts on the network segments. Whenever a host computer wants to send the data first it checks the ARP table to see whether the ethernet address is available. If it is available it will use and send the data. If it is not available than it broadcasts the ARP request to all the hosts and obtain the ARP response from the host whose IP address matches as contained in the ARP request message. This newly available details of IP address to physical address mapping is then added to the ARP table or ARP cache. This is called dynamic addition of the entry in ARP table.

ARP commands

arp -a - This command is used to display ARP table
arp -s 00-aa-00-62-c6-09 - This command adds a static entry to the table.


As mentioned above RARP is the opposite of the ARP. As mentioned RARP is used when ethernet address is known but IP address is not known. RARP is often used in conjunction with BOOTP protocol to boot diskless workstation.

After studying the difference between ARP and RARP one can also understand ARP protocol which mentions fields used in ARP request and ARP response commands.


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ARP request and response fields

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