DHCP – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

What is DHCP?

DHCP or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is a network management protocol that dynamically assigns an IP address to all clients of a network so they can communicate with other IP networks. Regardless of whether the device is connected with a wired or wireless connection, DHCP applies to all devices that are connected to the same network. The DHCP is also an improved version of another similar network protocol called BOOTP or Bootstrap Protocol.

How Does DHCP Work?

When your device wants to access a network that uses DHCP, it sends an IP address request to the DHCP server. The server then responds with an IP address that’s sent to the device. The DHCP server also monitors how the address is used; once a certain time has elapsed or the device turns inactive, the IP address is taken back by the DHCP server.

The used IP address is returned and kept on a pool of IP addresses that are managed by the DHCP server. Once a new device connects, the server reassigns the IP address to that device. This process keeps repeating over and over unless the network is shut down or no new device is connected.

Besides facilitating all IP address assignments, DHCP is also responsible for designating other network parameters, these include the default gateway address, subnet mask, and DNS or Domain Name Server.

DHCP Lease Time

As mentioned earlier, the IP address and IP information assigned to a device are only valid for a limited amount of time. This process is called DHCP lease; on the other hand, the period of validity is called DHCP lease time. Once the lease expires, the client cannot use the IP address again and has to stop all communications with other IP networks unless it goes through the DHCP lease renewal cycle, which extends the lease time.

To avoid DHCP server unavailability at the end of the lease time, active clients of the network automatically renew their lease halfway through the lease period.

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Benefits of DHCP

The DHCP network management protocol is used on most modern routers, modems, and other related network devices today. Besides automatically handling all IP address requests, the DHCP also provides these benefits to network administrators:

Mobility

Regardless of the client’s connection and device type, the DHCP seamlessly handles all IP address-related tasks. This is useful in most networks today, where portable devices—such as laptops, smartphones, and other smart devices—can move freely without worrying about network problems.

Reliability

Most DHCP-related issues on devices happen when two or more users have the same IP address. It creates confusion and will lead to both devices failing to connect to the network. DHCP minimizes these types of mishaps, including some configuration errors.

Seamless IP Address Management

If an organization plans to change its range of IP addresses to another, DHCP can easily assist and manage all IP address changes without interfering with the clients on that network. If your Hotel Wi-Fi is not redirecting to the login page a recommended fix is to enable DHCP in your TCP/IP settings.

IP Address Optimization

The DHCP not only handles IP address requests but also automatically takes back inactive or expired addresses and brings them back to the IP address pool.