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WSL2, Hyper-V & Reserved Ports

Are you having problems with "port already in use" while running apps in WSL under Windows? Hyper-V might be the culprit. This post explains why, and gives a possible workaround.

Allegedly a botched Windows update resets the dynamic TCP port range in some cases. When this happens, Hyper-V ends up aggressively reserving it for its own Windows Container Host Networking Service (HNS). The end result for me? I’ve occasionally been unable to connect to my Angular app running on port 4200 within WSL2.

Today I remembered that Windows had some sort of port reservation/exclusion mechanism, so I dug up the relevant command and sure enough, Angular’s port 4200 had (presumably) been stolen by Hyper-V1.

> netsh int ipv4 show excludedportrange protocol=tcp

Protocol tcp Port Exclusion Ranges

Start Port    End Port
----------    --------
      1583        1682
      2480        2579
    > 4192        4291
      5357        5357
      6045        6144
      7003        7102
     28385       28385
       ...         ...

The following steps fixed it for me:

  1. On my Windows host in PowerShell, I ran netsh int ipv4 set dynamic tcp start=51001 num=5000 to reset the dynamic port range to an area which I knew none of my apps used.
  2. I also ran reg add HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\hns\State /v EnableExcludedPortRange /d 0 /f to disable the HNS port exclusion behavior as netsh int ipv4 show excludedportrange protocol=tcp showed a lot of excluded ports that were not attributed to anything else.
  3. Reboot

Hopefully things are stable from now on. If not, I’ll update this post with further info.



In case you’re wondering, Hyper-V is used by the new WSL2, since it runs as a lightweight “virtual machine” in the background. I couldn’t just switch it off—although you can also fix it that way if you don’t need WSL2.