Zero-Configuration Network

What Does Zero-Configuration Network Mean?

A zero-configuration network is an IP network that is configured without using any manual configuration or configuration servers. This setup allows someone without networking expertise to connect computers, printers and other network devices and receive automatic network functionality. Automatic functions include allocating IP addresses, translating between domain names and IP addresses, and locating services such as printing without employing a directory service.


A zero-configuration network is also known as a zeroconf network or sometimes just zeroconf.

Techopedia Explains Zero-Configuration Network

A zero-configuration network is usually employed for home and small business network setup, where the security risk is low and it is difficult or impossible to set up a normal IP network. Common uses are for short-notice meetings or small conferences. Thus, the need for services such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and domain name system (DNS) servers is eliminated, along with having to set up each computer’s network settings manually.

Zeroconf is based on three technologies:

  • Assigning network addresses for various devices
  • Determining computer host names
  • Locating network services

Service discovery protocols automatically detect connected network services and devices. These protocols include:

  • Service Location Protocol
  • Universal Description Discovery and Integration for Web services
  • Bluetooth Service Discovery Protocol
  • eXtensible Resource Descriptor Sequence

Because zeroconf networks use multicast domain name service, they are more vulnerable to spoofing attacks.

Major implementations of zeroconf networks include Apple’s Bonjour, Avahi, Windows CE 5.0, Jini and Zeroconf, a stand-alone package based on Simple IPv4LL.


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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…