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Beginners Guides: Windows Command Prompt
Beginners Guides: Windows Command Prompt - PCSTATS
Back in the heyday of text-based operating systems like Unix and DOS, the command prompt was the operating system.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Mar 05 2011   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

All About IPConfig

IPCONFIG: This command is used to retrieve information about your system's network setup, or broadband internet connection, and details that are otherwise buried in layers of menus in the GUI. The IPCONFIG command used by itself provides you with a concise list of the network interfaces on your system and their IP addresses.

Using the '/all' switch throws you into a whole new level of detail, showing DNS information as well as the MAC addresses and other information attached to each of your network cards. This information is very hard to come by anywhere else within Windows XP.

Information is not all that the IPCONFIG command provides. The '/release', '/renew', and '/flushDNS' commands serve an essential purpose in Windows XP, performing functions you cannot duplicate elsewhere.

The 'ipconfig /release' and 'ipconfig /renew' commands direct your network adaptor(s) to drop and renew their current IP addresses respectively. This is useful in networks that use DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) to distribute IP addresses, such as with cable modem broadband internet providers. It forces your system to give up its current address and seek a new one from the DHCP server, which is essential when attempting to resolve certain network problems.

The 'ipconfig /flushdns' command serves an equally useful function. DNS ('Domain Name System') is the system that maps IP addresses to Internet addresses like www.pcstats.com (among other things). A full explanation of how DNS works is beyond the scope of this article, but see PCSTATS Networking Guide here for more details if you're interested in learning.

By default, your computer system keeps a DNS resolver cache which stores the IP address attached to frequently used DNS names (and Internet URLs, which are essentially the same thing). This enables your system to bring up frequently accessed web pages quickly, without the need to first consult a chain of DNS servers on the Internet to find out what IP address is associated with, say www.pcstats.com.

If you are in a network that uses an Internal DNS server as the first point in this chain of servers, that DNS server's IP address is going to be a more or less permanent resident of your DNS cache. So what happens if that server changes or goes down? Even if there is a backup, your system still has the original IP address in its cache, and will check that address first whenever you type in a request for a web page. Obviously, querying a non-existent DNS server is not going to get you far. Unfortunately, even if you change the address of the DNS server to a valid one in your network connection settings, your system will ignore it in favour of the entry in the cache. This can lead to much frustration.

By using the 'ipconfig /flushdns' command, you delete the contents of the DNS resolver cache, meaning that your system will now recheck its settings to see where it should be going to get DNS addresses. Problem solved.

The 'ipconfig /displaydns' command will show you the current contents of your system's DNS resolver cache.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Windows Command Prompt
 Pg 2.  Part 1: Entering and using the Windows XP command prompt
 Pg 3.  Moving Between Folders
 Pg 4.  Switches and Command Help
 Pg 5.  Creating and Deleting Folders and Files
 Pg 6.  Command Redirectors
 Pg 7.  More Handy CMD Commands
 Pg 8.  — All About IPConfig
 Pg 9.  Tree and Netstat
 Pg 10.  Tasklist and SystemInfo

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