The Windows Sockets WSADuplicateSocket function returns a WSAPROTOCOL_INFO structure that can be used to create a new socket descriptor for a shared socket.

int WSADuplicateSocket (


DWORD dwProcessId,





[in] Specifies the local socket descriptor.


[in] Specifies the ID of the target process for which the shared socket will be used.


[out] A pointer to a buffer allocated by the client that is large enough to contain a WSAPROTOCOL_INFO structure. The service provider copies the protocol info structure contents to this buffer.


This function is used to enable socket sharing between processes. A source process calls WSADuplicateSocket to obtain a special WSAPROTOCOL_INFO structure. It uses some interprocess communications (IPC) mechanism to pass the contents of this structure to a target process, which in turn uses it in a call to WSASocket to obtain a descriptor for the duplicated socket. Note that the special WSAPROTOCOL_INFO structure may only be used once by the target process.

Sockets can be shared among threads in a given process without using the WSADuplicateSocket function, since a socket descriptor is valid in all of a process's threads.

One possible scenario for establishing and using a shared socket in a handoff mode is illustrated below:

Source Process
Destination Process
  1. WSASocket, WSAConnect

  1. Request target process ID

  1. Receive process ID request and respond
  1. Receive process ID

  1. Call WSADuplicateSocket to get a special WSAPROTOCOL_INFO structure

  1. Send WSAPROTOCOL_INFO structure to target

  1. Receive WSAPROTOCOL_INFO structure

8) Call WSASocket to create shared socket descriptor.
10) closesocket

9)Use shared socket for data exchange

Return Values

If no error occurs, WSADuplicateSocket returns zero. Otherwise, a value of SOCKET_ERROR is returned, and a specific error code may be retrieved by calling WSAGetLastError.


The descriptors that reference a shared socket may be used independently as far as I/O is concerned. However, the Windows Sockets interface does not implement any type of access control, so it is up to the processes involved to coordinate their operations on a shared socket. A typical use for shared sockets is to have one process that is responsible for creating sockets and establishing connections, hand off sockets to other processes which are responsible for information exchange.

Since what is duplicated are the socket descriptors and not the underlying socket, all of the state associated with a socket is held in common across all the descriptors. For example a setsockopt operation performed using one descriptor is subsequently visible using a getsockopt from any or all descriptors. A process may call closesocket on a duplicated socket and the descriptor will become deallocated. The underlying socket, however, will remain open until closesocket is called by the last remaining descriptor.

Notification on shared sockets is subject to the usual constraints of WSAAsyncSelect and WSAEventSelect. Issuing either of these calls using any of the shared descriptors cancels any previous event registration for the socket, regardless of which descriptor was used to make that registration. Thus, for example, a shared socket cannot deliver FD_READ events to process A and FD_WRITE events to process B. For situations when such tight coordination is required, it is suggested that developers use threads instead of separate processes.

Error Codes

A successful WSAStartup must occur before using this function.
The network subsystem has failed.
Indicates that one of the specified parameters was invalid.
A blocking Windows Sockets 1.1 call is in progress, or the service provider is still processing a callback function.
No more socket descriptors are available.
No buffer space is available. The socket cannot be created.
The descriptor is not a socket.

See Also


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