The industry-standard tool for link-layer network access in PC environments



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WinPcap is a powerful network packet capture and network analysis tool for Windows platforms. Developed by the Politecnico di Torino, it provides low-level network access, allowing applications to capture and transmit network packets bypassing the protocol stack, making it an essential tool for network administrators, security professionals, and developers alike.

Common networking applications only need sockets and other standard elements of an operating system to access network data. The operating system manages protocol handling and packet reassembly so that ongoing traffic can easily be read by applications.

WinPcap is the direct packet access standard for the Windows operating system. It establishes an individual raw network data connection for programs like protocol analyzers, network analyzers, network scanners, traffic generators, network intrusion detection systems, and many other security utilities.

The network analysis and packet capture software serve as a device driver on the system. This driver is found in the network component of the Windows kernel, along with DLLs, which make the programming interface easy to exploit for the categories talked about above.

Dynamic libraries are included with the application. They generate a series of individual functions for the system which can be used to obtain a list of network adapters that are available. They can also obtain detailed data about specific adapters and find current packets over a Network Interface Card. These packets can be saved and sent by it too. In addition, packet filters can be created for certain packet sets.

Itcan help certain programs function properly, including Free HTTP Sniffer, nTop, Snort, Nmap, and Wireshark. This software contains the facilities needed to obtain raw packets that go through the network adapters available and the adapters in which other computers exchange. The packets can also be filtered by implementing user-defined rules. Other things you can do include gathering statistical data on current traffic and releasing raw packet data to the network.

WinPcap is different than personal firewalls, Quality of Service Schedulers, and traffic shapers because its goal is to find packets that move along the network. Because of this, it cannot control or block generated traffic on the same system brought there by other applications.

The tool is necessary for advanced network analysis and monitoring tools which sniff out packets in a network. If you spend a lot of time working within this category of software, then you’ll need Win Pcap right away.

  • Packet Capture: It allows users to capture network packets in real-time from network interfaces.
  • Packet Filtering: Users can set up filters to capture specific types of network traffic based on protocols, IP addresses, ports, and other criteria.
  • Network Analysis: It provides tools for analyzing captured network packets, including packet decoding and protocol analysis.
  • Remote Packet Capture: It supports remote packet capture, allowing users to capture packets from remote systems over the network.
  • Integration: It integrates seamlessly with popular network analysis tools like Wireshark, enabling advanced network analysis and troubleshooting.
User Interface

it primarily operates through a command-line interface (CLI), providing advanced users with precise control over packet capture and analysis operations. However, it is often utilized in conjunction with other software like Wireshark, which offers a graphical user interface (GUI) for easier packet analysis.

Installation and Setup

Installing this tool is straightforward, following the typical installation process for Windows software. Users can download the installer from the official website or FileHorse and run it to complete the installation. Once installed, it integrates with the Windows networking stack, allowing applications to utilize its packet capture capabilities.

How to Use
  • Launch: After installation, it runs in the background, ready to capture network packets.
  • Specify Capture Settings: Users can specify capture settings such as the network interface to capture packets from and any filtering criteria.
  • Start Packet Capture: Begin capturing packets by running the appropriate command or initiating packet capture through an integrated application like Wireshark.
  • Analyze Captured Packets: Once packets are captured, users can analyze them using Wireshark or other compatible network analysis tools.

Can WinPcap capture encrypted network traffic?
It captures packets at the network layer, so it can capture encrypted traffic, but it cannot decrypt it. Encrypted traffic will appear as encrypted data in captured packets.

Can WinPcap capture wireless network traffic?
It primarily captures packets from wired network interfaces. For capturing wireless traffic, users may need additional hardware and software such as AirPcap.

Is WinPcap open source?
No, the tool is not open source. However, it is free to use for non-commercial purposes.

Can WinPcap capture packets from multiple network interfaces simultaneously?
Yes, it supports capturing packets from multiple network interfaces concurrently, allowing for comprehensive network analysis.


Wireshark: Wireshark is a popular open-source network protocol analyzer that offers comprehensive packet capture and analysis capabilities, often used alongside WinPcap.

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The tool is FREE to download and use for non-commercial purposes. However, commercial users may need to purchase a license or explore alternative solutions with commercial licensing options.

  • Powerful packet capture capabilities.
  • Extensive filtering options for precise packet capture.
  • Seamless integration with Wireshark and other network analysis tools.
  • Support for remote packet capture.
  • Free for non-commercial use.
  • This product is not developed actively anymore.
  • Command-line interface may be intimidating for novice users.
  • Limited to capturing packets from wired network interfaces.
  • Cannot decrypt encrypted network traffic.
  • Lack of a graphical user interface may deter some users.

  • WinPcap 4.1.3 Screenshots

    The images below have been resized. Click on them to view the screenshots in full size.

    WinPcap 4.1.3 Screenshot 1
  • WinPcap 4.1.3 Screenshot 2

What's new in this version:

- Added support for Windows 8 and Server 2012
- Removed the old CACE logo

- Fixed a bug in the Just-In-Time compiler for BPF filters that could cause an OS crash when dealing with specially crafted LD instructions
- The BPF filter validation code was not properly validating division-by-zero DIV instructions