Difference Wiki

ARP vs. RARP: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 11, 2023
ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) resolves IP addresses to MAC addresses, while RARP (Reverse Address Resolution Protocol) resolves MAC addresses to IP addresses.

Key Differences

ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) and RARP (Reverse Address Resolution Protocol) both play pivotal roles in network communication but with varied orientations. ARP assists computers in finding the MAC address that correlates with a specific IP address. In contrast, RARP aids a computer in discovering its IP address using its MAC address, particularly useful during booting processes.
ARP primarily focuses on allowing a system to learn the MAC address of a device possessing a particular IP address, ensuring smooth inter-network communication. RARP, inversely, enables diskless computers to determine their own IP address by querying the network with their MAC address, facilitating initial network access.
In the realm of packet data communication, ARP transmits requests to all devices within a local network domain to identify the device owning the targeted IP address. RARP’s operation also involves sending requests, but instead seeks a server in the local network which can provide it with the needed IP address, leveraging its known MAC address.
In usage scenarios, ARP often becomes instrumental when a device seeks to communicate with another device within the same or an external network. RARP predominantly finds its usage during diskless workstation boot processes where the machine, devoid of a hard-coded IP address, requires network assistance to ascertain its IP identity.
The longevity of ARP’s practicality in modern networks is evident in its wide deployment and essential function in IP networking. Conversely, RARP, while historically significant, has largely been superseded by other protocols (such as BOOTP or DHCP) in accomplishing IP address resolution from MAC addresses in modern networking scenarios.

Comparison Chart


Resolves IP to MAC address
Resolves MAC to IP address

Primary Use

General IP communication
Diskless workstation booting

Request Direction


Usage in Modern Networking

Extensively utilized
Largely replaced by DHCP and BOOTP

Packet Destination

Broadcast to all in local network
Typically broadcast, aimed at RARP servers

ARP and RARP Definitions


In science, ARP can refer to an Antiretroviral Drug.
The patient was prescribed an ARP to manage the HIV infection.


RARP could refer to the Rare Antique Reproduction Project in certain specialty fields.
The museum commenced a RARP to recreate ancient artifacts.


In finance, ARP may signify the Annual Percentage Rate.
The credit card comes with a 20% ARP.


In some contexts, RARP might represent Rapid Application Retrieval Protocol.
RARP facilitates the quick recall of stored application data.


ARP stands for Address Resolution Protocol in networking.
ARP ensures that IP packets reach the correct physical device.


RARP might symbolize Regulatory Accounting Rate Principles in financial contexts.
The CFO scrutinized the financial reports for adherence to RARP.


In musical contexts, ARP may refer to arpeggiation.
The synthesizer used an ARP to play the chord in a sequence.


Sometimes RARP refers to Robotic Assisted Radical Prostatectomy in medical fields.
The surgeon utilized RARP to perform the delicate procedure.


In military, ARP could denote an Air Raid Precaution.
During the war, ARP drills were common in the cities.


RARP translates for Reverse Address Resolution Protocol in network communications.
RARP helps diskless workstations find their IP address at startup.


An arpeggiator.


An arpeggio.


The bark of a seal.


Alsatian artist and poet who was cofounder of Dadaism in Zurich; noted for abstract organic sculptures (1887-1966)


What does ARP stand for?

Address Resolution Protocol.

What does RARP stand for?

Reverse Address Resolution Protocol.

Does RARP support diskless computers?

Yes, RARP helps diskless computers ascertain their IP address during booting.

Can ARP resolve MAC to IP?

No, ARP resolves IP to MAC.

Is ARP used in modern networking?

Yes, ARP is fundamental in IP networking.

How does ARP handle IP to MAC resolution in a local network?

ARP uses broadcast messages to discover the MAC address corresponding to a known IP address in a local network.

Are ARP and RARP still relevant in IPv6?

ARP is not used in IPv6; its function is replaced by Neighbor Discovery Protocol (NDP). RARP is generally not relevant in IPv6 environments.

How is ARP different from RARP in purpose?

ARP resolves IP addresses to MAC addresses, while RARP resolves MAC addresses to IP addresses.

Is RARP useful in everyday internet browsing?

No, RARP is typically not used in everyday internet browsing as it's mostly used for diskless workstations during booting.

What layer of the TCP/IP model do ARP and RARP operate on?

ARP and RARP operate on the Internet Layer (or Network Interface Layer) of the TCP/IP model.

How does ARP transmit its requests?

ARP broadcasts requests to all devices in a local network.

Is RARP widely used today?

No, RARP has been largely supplanted by DHCP and BOOTP.

Do ARP and RARP operate on the same network layer?

Yes, both ARP and RARP operate on the Link Layer of the OSI model.

Why is RARP not commonly used today?

RARP has largely been replaced by more advanced protocols like BOOTP and DHCP for IP address allocation.

Can ARP be used to poison network traffic?

Yes, ARP spoofing or ARP poisoning is a technique used to attack an Ethernet network by sending fake ARP messages.

How secure are ARP and RARP?

Neither ARP nor RARP incorporates security features and both are susceptible to spoofing and poisoning attacks.

What is the main function of ARP?

ARP translates IP addresses to MAC addresses.

What is RARP’s primary function?

RARP translates MAC addresses to IP addresses.

How does RARP find its IP address?

RARP queries the local network using its MAC address to find its IP address.

Can RARP work in large distributed networks?

RARP is less suitable for large distributed networks due to its broadcast nature and dependency on RARP servers in the local network.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons