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Capturing packets in Wireshark

How to capture packets in Wireshark

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With a little practice, you can get so much value out of Wireshark. The first step is to capture, so here’s our step-by-step guide!

Does the thought of running Wireshark make you nervous? Wireshark’s got a reputation for being more than a bit challenging. With a little practice, though, you can get so much value out of the program. The first step is to capture, so here’s our step-by-step guide!

If you haven’t downloaded Wireshark yet, you can do it for free from their website. Next, you will need to make sure you’re connected to a network in order to start capturing packets. Wireshark’s wiki has a great guide to this setup portion. Essentially, you’ll need to make sure you have permissions to capture and that your operating system supports capturing.

Once you have all the special permissions and support you need, launch Wireshark. When you first open it, you’ll have the option to open a pre-captured file or start a new capture. To start a new capture, first click on Interface List.

Select the interface you want to capture from, and click Start when you’re ready.

Begin capturing. Getting a capture that is the perfect length is very important: if it’s too short, then you might not have enough data. If you’re getting a general system health check, aim for a capture that is 1-24 hours long. If you’re checking to make sure that you’ve solved a problem, aim for 5-20 minutes, depending on how frequently you see the problem occurring. Learn more about capture lengths.

Click the Stop button when you’re done capturing.

There you have it, you’ve done your first capture! That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Watch this video for more help: 

Want to learn more about working with Wireshark? Check out our advanced guide to troubleshooting in Wireshark!

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