What is MAC address cloning?

 What is MAC address cloning?

The MAC address clone process often called mac pass through, is a useful technique to get around connectivity and network issues that can arise in both home and office environments where a set of specific, or set number of, MAC addresses have been approved. Cloning gets around that by copying the MAC address of an approved piece of hardware to the problematic device, making it appear as if it's allowed on the network.

What is a MAC address?

The MAC address, or media access control address, is the signifier for a particular piece of hardware or device (more accurately, its network connector) on a network. It functions like a more precise and hardware-specific version of an IP address.

This is of utmost importance with modern networks where there can be many devices connected to the same local network at the time. That can be everything including laptops, smartphones, streaming devices, IoT gadgets, tablets, and anything else that connects to your network.

MAC addresses are typically hardcoded into devices by the manufacturer, which makes it very useful for tracking a problematic device on a network, or for blocking and whitelisting particular devices to use a network connection or service.

Why would you need to clone a MAC address?

Some business and education networks use MAC addresses to give a set of specific systems access to their network and the wider Internet. MAC addresses can be a useful tool for protecting secure networks from outside hackers or users stealing Wi-Fi or Lan connections. But it can also get in the way of legitimate users, like new employees who have a laptop that hasn't been approved by the network administrator yet. External networking devices like USB Ethernet adapters, hubs, and laptop docking stations also tend to have their own MAC addresses, which may also create authentication problems.

Home users can also run into problems with MAC addresses. Certain Internet service providers limit their users to approved hardware for connecting to the Internet, like their own branded routers, modems, and switches. That can be problematic if your ISP doesn't offer the hardware you need for a high-speed connection, or you simply managed to find a better deal on a router elsewhere.

In any case, learning how to MAC clone can fix these issues, letting you get back to work or play without a major headache.

How to clone MAC address

What's great about the MAC address clone process is that it doesn't require making any major adjustments to your network. You simply copy a known, approved MAC address, and clone it to the device that is currently giving you connection issues. Here's how to perform a MAC pass through on different pieces of hardware.

Laptop Dock

If connecting a Cable Matters laptop docking station to your network has given you MAC address problems, the best way to correct them is using the EZ-Dock Mac Address Clone tool. It's fully supported by all Cable Matters USB-C docks and multiport adapters and makes the clone MAC address process quick and painless.

For an in-depth guide on how to use it and the best place to download it, read more here. Note that other docking station brands may have a similar process but specific software. 

Windows PC

 

For Windows PC MAC address changes, you'll need to do some manual tweaking of your network settings, but it's relatively straight forward and only takes a few minutes.

  • On the PC with the MAC address that you want to clone, type "CMD" into the search bar, and select the corresponding result.
  • Type "ipconfig/all" and look for the "Physical address." That's the the MAC address you want to clone. It should look something like this:

00-1B-63-84-43-E7

  • Note it down somewhere and move over to the PC that you want to clone the address to.
  • Type "View Network Computers" and select the corresponding result.
  • Right-click on your local network, either wired or wireless, and select "Properties."
  • Select "Configure," followed by the "Advanced" tab.
  • Look for "Network Address" on the list and select it.
  • Tick the box next to the "Value" field and type in the MAC address you previously copied.
  • Select the "OK" button to save your MAC pass through change.

Congratulations, you've just completed a MAC address clone. To confirm it worked, complete the "IPConfig" steps in the command prompt again to make sure that your device's MAC address has been changed.

Router

If you've added a new router to your network and your ISP doesn't want to recognize it because of its different MAC address, you can change its details too. You'll need to know both your old and new routers' local IP addresses, though, so make sure to look them up before proceeding.

Note: These instructions will work for most routers, but the specific menus you need to use may differ depending on the model.

  • Access your old router through its IP address via your web browser of choice. This is typically 192.168.1.1, though can differ by manufacturer and model.
  • Login using your admin details and select the status page and locate the MAC address, or Physical Address for the router's network interface.
  • Copy that address down, then logout, shut down your router, and set up the new one.
  • Login to your new router in the same fashion using its IP address and admin details. If you haven't yet, be sure to change the admin password to something complicated (note it down in a password manager so you don't forget it) to help improve network security.
  • Navigate to the network settings page and input your old router's MAC address into the Physical Address or MAC Address field.
  • Save your settings and your MAC address clone should be complete.

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