What is DHCP and How Does It Work?

Juliet D'cruz

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What is DHCP and How Does It Work?

DCHP has been a buzzword in cybersecurity for a while now. It stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and is basically a way for all the devices in a particular network to communicate with each other. It accomplishes this by dynamically assigning each device on the network with an IP address and other network setup settings. Let’s get into more details on the technicalities of DHCP.

What exactly is DHCP?

DHCP is used to efficiently assign an IP address and other data to each host on the network so that they are able to interact with one another. It was first created in October 1993 and is still frequently used today. It uses a series of exchanged messages known as DHCP transactions or DHCP conversations at the application layer to dynamically allocate the client’s IP address.

Your smartphones, computers, tablets, and other devices like doorbell cameras receive IP addresses at home thanks to the dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP). In most cases, your router serves as a DHCP server when you connect to Wi-Fi on your home network.

A DHCP server is frequently a dedicated computer in a big company setup. It is less expensive, more secure, and doesn’t waste precious company time by streamlining IP address administration.

How does DHCP work?

There are four main steps in the process of DHCP.

DHCP discovery

In the discovery step, there is an initial message produced throughout the server and client’s communication process. To find out whether a network has any DHCP servers or servers at all, the client host generates the discovery message. This message is broadcast to all connected devices in the network to locate the DHCP server.

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DHCP offer

After the DHCP discovery message, the client is still waiting for an IP address to be assigned to them. To get them an IP address assigned, the DHCP offer message is then broadcast all over the ethernet network. This may contain network information, including the client’s IP address, default gateway IP address, IP lease time, and DHCP server IP address.

DHCP request

The client then sends a DHCP request as a response to the DHCP offer. The client will only accept the first DHCP offer message it receives if numerous DHCP servers respond to the client with DHCP offer messages. The chosen DHCP server identification and IP address are then broadcast in a DHCP request message by the client.

DHCP pack

The last stage of configuration begins with the DHCP pack step once the DHCP server gets the client’s DHCP request message. A DHCP pack packet is delivered to the client as part of the acknowledgment step. This packet includes the lease term, along with any further setup data the customer might have requested.

Benefits of DHCP

Easy to implement

Implementing DHCP is remarkably easy. IP management can be a complex process, but DHCP changes that. When IP addresses are assigned automatically, you never have to worry about them being incorrect. You can save network administrators a lot of time and money by eliminating the need for them to assign and maintain IPs manually. Network administrators use network mapping to visualize and categorize complex networks into smaller, more manageable portions. Duplicate IPs and conflicts involving two or more IPs won’t be a concern for you.

No additional costs

DHCP does not require you to pay lots of money to simply operate it. This is useful since businesses won’t have to shell out extra money for things like installation or buying new PCs or licenses. Furthermore, once it is up and running, DHCP does not require any additional maintenance.

Advanced conflict detection

An IP address can only be used once. One or both of the devices cannot be linked if there is a conflict in the IP addresses of the two devices. When IP addresses are assigned manually, IP conflict is very common since it is hard to keep track of IP addresses manually. Thanks to DHCP, the possibility of IP conflict is reduced greatly and you don’t have to waste any company time and money on conflict resolution.

IP lease management

The DHCP lease time is one of the most important settings of DHCP and it specifies how long a network device may utilize a certain IP address. The IP address is reserved for that device for as long as the reservation is in effect. Thanks to this IP lease time setting, DHCP is able to control the lease effectively to make addresses available for the pool. Additionally, it can handle lease extensions to prevent disruption.


DHCP increases speed and flexibility by releasing and renewing IP addresses whenever devices leave and rejoin the network. This is especially important for big businesses as keeping track of this can be an unnecessary headache for your IT department.

DHCP is essential for IP management

DHCP has been an essential part of IP management for a long time now. Even if you’re not an expert on it, you’ve probably heard about it being mentioned by your IT team. It is only one of several networking terms that may appear hazy or challenging to grasp, but knowing about DHCP can help you comprehend your network more fully.

Your company probably already uses DHCP protocols on its network, mostly because they make it easier to provide IP addresses to new devices entering the network. And if not, you should definitely consider using it! Any large organization would find it challenging to complete the IP management process manually, especially if they have a daily influx of hundreds or even thousands of devices that join their network and require individual IP addresses.

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