Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

What Does Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Mean?

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a network management protocol used to dynamically assign an IP address to any new node entering the network. DHCP permits a node to be configured automatically, thereby avoiding the necessity of involvement by a network administrator.


DHCP does the following:

  1. Manages the provision of all the nodes added or dropped from the network
  2. Maintains the unique IP address of the host using a DHCP server
  3. Sends a request to the DHCP server whenever a client/node, which is configured to work with DHCP, connects to a network. The server acknowledges by providing an IP address to the client/node.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is also known as RFC 2131.

Techopedia Explains Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

DHCP is an automated method by which any newly added or transferred node in a network can be assigned or reassigned an IP address instantly. Without DHCP, the network administrators would be forced to assign IP address manually for every node in a network.

A DHCP server has many duties:

  1. A DHCP server is configured to manage the provision of IP addresses and is an essential requirement to run DHCP protocol. The server manages the record of all the IP addresses it allocates to the nodes. If the node rejoins or is relocated in the network, the server identifies the node using its MAC address. This helps to prevent the accidental configuration of same IP address to two different nodes.
  2. For DHCP to operate, the clients need to be configured with it. When a DHCP-aware client connects to the network, the client broadcasts a request to the DHCP server for the network settings.
  3. The server responds to the client’s request by providing the necessary IP configuration information.
  4. The DHCP server is ideally suited in scenarios where there is a regular inclusion and exclusion of network nodes like wireless hotspots. In these cases, the DHCP server also assigns a lease time to each client, after which the assigned IP address in invalid.

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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…