What is a DHCP server?

John W. Myers 0

The IT people, network administrators, and others are as passionate about their job as you are about your business. But jobs involve both interesting tasks and some really boring. Ask your IT guys how fun is to manually give IP addresses (IP) for every client’s device that requires it? Fortunately, DHCP exists!

What is a DHCP server?

The dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) server is a server inside a network that relies on the standard DHCP protocol and automates different tasks (network configurations). Default gateways, subnet mask, and assigning IPs to devices are just some examples. 

Having a DHCP server, it will automatically attend to clients’ queries, providing them all needed configurations and parameters for communicating without trouble on the network. If you don’t have a DHCP server, such tasks are in charge of administrators. They have to supply those requirements of clients to join the network manually. And this can be a full-time job on extensive networks.

How does the DHCP server work?

DHCP servers get their functionality through the dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP). This is a protocol for network management very popularly used on TCP/IP networks. It works through the following elements.

  • A server configured with DHCP. It has IP addresses and the needed data for setting up devices on the network. It can be a server, router, or another kind of host.
  • A pool of IP addresses. A set of IPs to serve DHCP clients of your network.
  • The lease. Period of time DHCP clients keep IP addresses data. Once this lease concludes, they have to renew it. DHCP servers assign a unique and dynamic IP address to every client’s device. The IP address gets replaced once its lease expires.
  • DHCP clients. They are the endpoints where the DHCP server will send configuration data and IP. From computers to smartphones and IoT devices. In general, they are set up by default to accept DCHP data. 
  • DHCP relay agent. A TCP/IP host that helps to detect client’s requests to forward them to the configured server. It forwards requests and answers between DHCP clients and the server. It’s especially helpful for requests that originated in different parts of the network, not exactly where the DHCP server is.
  • Subnets. IP networks, especially big ones, are commonly divided to manage them easier. Every part or segment is called a subnet.

Advantages of having it

To maintain networks working smoothly involves a lot of different tasks. Automation that DHCP protocol configured on a server really makes things easier for you and your IT team.

  • Supplying and assigning IP addresses will be an easier and dynamic process. Without DHCP protocol, administrators have to assign a static IP for every device. Then they have to check when it’s not more in use to assign it to another device, always checking not to run out of IPs.
  • Accuracy will be improved. Typos are common for humans dealing with thousands of long sequences of numbers (IPs) and other configuration data. DHCP optimizes accuracy, minimizing mistakes and risks. 
  • Avoid IP address troubles. To properly operate, the same IP address can not be used by two or more devices simultaneously. Every device requires a unique IP to interact with the network. To assign the same IP to two devices, by mistake, will produce a conflict, and the connection for devices won’t work. At least for one of them. DHCP will manage this process correctly, avoiding such conflicts between IPs.
  • Modifying IPs, endpoints, or scopes will be simple. You make the necessary modifications or upgrades, and they will propagate, and new users will get them.

Conclusion.

No doubt, a DHCP server is a good investment. The efficiency of your network but also your popularity among your IT team will totally increase!

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