Basic review of the DHCP server

DHCP server helps networks administrators and makes their work lighter!

Networks have become really complex. The amount of devices asking for connection has grown massively. Therefore, the administration and maintenance of networks’ resources are really demanding. 

What is DHCP?

DHCP is a network management protocol that automates the necessary configuration for devices to connect and communicate on IP networks. Without this configuration, devices can’t access network services like NTP or DNS. They can’t establish any communication based on TCP or UDP. DHCP means Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. 

How does DHCP work?

A DHCP server can automatically provide an IP address, default gateway address, the subnet mask, DNS settings, and other important network configuration information necessary for devices to connect and talk with other endpoints. 

DHCP architecture’s elements.

By knowing DHCP elements and their functions, you can better approach the way DHCP works.

  • DHCP server.

It’s a machine, server, router, or whatever acting as host, with the DHCP enabled. It has the IP addresses and all the configuration information. It’s responsible for responding to IP addresses queries, supplying available IP addresses, storing them during the time their lease allows and renewing them when that time expires. It manages the communication with client devices.

  • DHCP client.

It’s the endpoint or device asking for a connection. Therefore, it’s who gets the IP address and the rest of the configuration information from the DHCP server. A DHCP client can be a laptop, smartphone, tablet, IoT, etc. Currently, most devices are configured to get DHCP information by default.

  • IP address pool or scope.

It’s the range of available IP addresses the DHCP server can supply to DHCP clients. 

  • Lease.

It establishes the time a DHCP client can keep an IP address and the rest of the information. Once the lease expires, the IP address and its data must be renewed.

  • Subnet.

For better management, networks are partitioned into pieces called subnets.

  • DHCP relay.

It’s an agent (router or host) used to centralize DHCP servers, not to have a server on every subnet. This agent listens to clients’ messages broadcasted on the network and sends them to the configured server. This last will respond to the relay agent, which will pass the responses to the clients.

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Advantages of a DHCP server.

  • It makes networks management easier while automating different tasks. 
  • It reduces the chances of human errors, like typos. IP configuration must be very accurate not have failures. When tasks are done manually, it’s easy to mistake a number, a dot, etc., while typing sequences of numbers like
  • It minimizes IP addresses conflicts. As it’s known, every device needs a unique IP address to get connected. If an IP address is duplicated, meaning assigned to two different devices, this will create a conflict. One or even both devices won’t get a connection.
  • Changes on the network can be executed without pain. If you need to change the IP address scope, addresses, endpoints, etc., you just have to configure the DHCP server, and changes will propagate to all new endpoints.

The disadvantage of a DHCP server.

DHCP protocol involves security risks. In order to make agile the process for clients joining the network fast, it doesn’t ask for authentication. This is clearly a possible entrance for malicious actors. 


DHCP is a great teammate for efficiently managing networks. Knowing its details, you can use it smartly, taking the most out of it! 

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