What Is DHCP

DHCP is the Abbreviation used for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. It is a communication protocol that automatically configures systems that enter a network. It assigns the ‘client’ a unique internet protocol (IP) name and address which would otherwise have to be manually done in a database. That in fact would be too time consuming, inconvenient and cumbersome. It provides important information on Domain Name Service (DNS) server address and Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) service address. It dynamically distributes other basic properties like the client’s subnet mask and default gateway. ‘Subnet’ is a group of connected network devices. Two systems that use different base protocols can be connecter through a ‘gateway’. Thus the Internet Service Providers use the DHCP to connect to the internet with minimum possible effort.

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a management protocol your network server uses below the surface of your network to assign IP addresses to all internet-capable devices you connect to it – laptops, computers, smartphones, printers, etc. When you try to sign onto the network, the device you are using sends a request for an IP address to the DHCP server. The server picks up an available IP address from a set it has at its disposal and then sends it back to your device. Once you stop using the device on your network, it returns the IP address to the DHCP server, so that it can be reassigned to another device. The DHCP protocol eliminates the risk of two devices on the same network sharing the same IP address. Such conflicts will result in an inability to access the Internet. In addition to IP addresses, this protocol distributes other networking parameters like default gateway addresses, subnet masks, and domain name servers (DNS). 

The server provides the client with these basic details and necessary information through a series of messages known as DHCP conversations or DHCP transactions. However if the server and clients are located on different subnets, a DHCP relay agent is used for the same. (Relay agents help in conversations and transmissions between clients and servers located in different IP networks.)

It works on a system of lease. The DHCP leases out the IP addresses to the client for short periods of time that can be adjusted. For example in an office or a workplace where the clients hardly change, the ISP increases the lease duration of the IP addresses such as 192.168.o.1 or making them more permanent and thus reducing the DHCP related net traffic.

A database is required, stored with the DHCP server that makes this leasing out a possible process. This is done by a ‘scope.’ It is an administrative collection of IP addresses and TCP/IP parameters for configuration that are available for lease to clients of a specific subnet. It is the function of the network administrator to create a scope for each subnet. It has various properties like a scope name that is assigned when it is created. A collection of possible IP addresses, much like a data bowl of IP addresses from which to include or exclude addresses that are used, unique subnet mask which determines the network ID for all IP addresses in the scope and lastly the values related to the lease duration are employed.

Addressing minute details and technicalities as well as managing huge sources of data, DHCP is a step forward in software technological innovations. It provides easy connectivity and net accessibility. Without this protocol a user would have to manually manage IP addresses as well as spend painfully long hours just to be able to get connectivity, let alone use the internet for the million other uses it has, probably every time he logged in/wished to log in.