DHCP Protocol: All about Dynamic Host Configuration
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DHCP Protocol: All about Dynamic Host Configuration

Abraão Almeida
Abraão Almeida

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Have you ever heard of dynamic host configuration? Better known as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), it allows the computer to dynamically obtain the configuration of the network to which it is connected.

Created in 1993, DHCP exists in almost all networks today, allowing users to connect equipment to the network very quickly and easily.

If you want to know how it works and what its advantages are, keep reading this article!

How does the DHCP protocol work?

The DHCP protocol emerged as a successor to BOOTP, which was commonly used in Linux operating systems, allowing automatic configuration of computers and printers on the shared network.

However, this protocol was limited as it was not used to set up extensive data networks. So the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) made a new protocol to overcome the limitations of BOOTP by creating DHCP.

From there, the main function of the DHCP protocol became the distribution of IP addresses in a network.

So, for you to understand how it works, the first step is to realize the need to have a DHCP server to distribute IP addresses.

Having this machine is essential to be the basis of all DHCP requests, relying on a fixed IP. It is important to remember that, in a network, we can only have one machine with a fixed address, which is the DHCP server.

When a user connects to the network, it sends a packet with an IP address configuration request.

After that, the DHCP server manages a fixed list of available addresses according to the following parameters: DNS, default gateway and domain name.

Therefore, when a machine is turned on, there is no network configuration defined.

Therefore, to find and communicate with the DHCP server, a technique called broadcast is used, in which the machine itself sends a special broadcast packet to the local network with some data, such as the request mode and the ports of connection.

When it receives the packet, the server delivers another broadcast packet with the requested information to the user.

In this context, several packages can be issued that can be issued between users and servers, such as:

  • DHCPDISCOVER: used to discover available DHCP servers;
  • DHCPOFFER: this is a server response to the DHCPDISCOVER packet, with data about the first connection parameters;
  • DHCPREQUEST: when the client wants to increase the IP address lease time;
  • DHCPACK: this is a response from the server regarding the parameters and the IP of the user's machine;
  • DHCPNAK: This is a server response to let the user know that the lease is over or network misconfiguration;
  • DHCPDECLINE: the user informs the server that the IP address was used;
  • DHCPRELEASE: an IP address is released by the client;
  • DHCPINFORM: Client requests local parameters.

What are the advantages of the DHCP protocol?

By adopting the DHCP protocol, the user gains significant advantages. Get to know some of them below.

Ease of connection to the network

One of the greatest advantages of the DHCP protocol is that it makes it easier for the user to connect to a network. Thus, he does not need to be a configuration expert to have experience with the equipment.

In fact, if you use the same notebook both at home and at work, there's no need to reconfigure it every time it goes to a different location.

Meanwhile, mobile device users can easily connect to the wireless network just by entering the security key.

Reliability and security for your network

If you've ever tried modifying your network configuration, you know this can be a complex task. In addition, improperly configured devices can cause serious damage to the entire network.

However, with the DHCP protocol, all computers are given a valid configuration, in which each computer acquires a unique IP address so that conflicts do not occur.

Remember that in large networks it is not very difficult to accidentally change an IP address that has already been used.

This accident can prevent the devices from working, making troubleshooting difficult because it is a large network and, therefore, making it more difficult to track down the offending computer.

Improvement of the work of the central administration

Through the master configuration that is done on the DHCP server, the DHCP protocol even facilitates the management of a network by administrators.

So, if you need to change a subnet, just change the settings on the DHCP server.

Parameter changes, such as the DNS server and the Default Gateway, in all network equipment can also be done very easily, as it is enough to make the change in the DHCP server.

As you know, configuring manually can be quite laborious depending on the number of machines, since you would have to personally look at each one of them and make the modifications by hand.

With the DHCP protocol, this is not necessary. Thus, the use of DHCP servers can still reduce the time spent on configurations and reconfigurations of computers on the network.

Optimization in configuration management

Renewing DHCP service leases helps ensure that the required update frequency of certain clients is done efficiently and automatically by clients through communication with DHCP servers.

In this way, it promotes an automation in the process of configuring the TCP/IP protocol that exists in network devices.


Currently, one of the characteristics of the DHCP protocol is that it is cross-platform.

Therefore, the DHCP server supports any type of machine, so it is possible to have a network with different types of equipment and operating systems, such as Windows, Linux and MAC OS.

No errors and no additional costs

As it is not necessary to dedicate only one server to perform the service, the DHCP protocol does not have additional costs.

In addition, it makes it impossible for errors to occur on the network, such as duplication of addresses, causing a conflict of IP addresses, or incorrect typing of a subnet mask Did you see how it is worth adopting the DHCP protocol? Enjoy and start monitoring your server! Learn more with our article: Server Monitoring Tool: Meet Hosts Green.

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