DHCP is a network management protocol used on UDP/IP networks where a DHCP server dynamically assigns an IP address and other network configuration parameters to each device on a network. Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) involves a process where a DHCP server enables computers to request IP addresses and networking parameters automatically from the Internet service provider (ISP) therefore halting the need for a network administrator or a user to manually assign IP addresses to all network devices. It is a central management protocol used for providing quick and automatic distribution of IP addresses within a network. Dynamic addressing makes it simple for network administrators to manage the task because the software keeps track of IP addresses rather than requiring an administrator to do so. With DHCP a new computer can be added to a network automatically without the hassle of manually assigning it a unique IP address. It uses dynamic IP addressing for Internet subscribers.
DHCP is used for multiple purposes from configuring the proper subnet mask to assigning default gateway, and DNS server information on the device. A DHCP server issues unique IP addresses and automatically configure other network information. A router acts as a DHCP server in most homes and small businesses whereas in large networks, a single computer may act as the DHCP server.
Once a client device is turned on and connected to a network that has a DHCP server, it will send a request of an IP address to a host router (or server) and the host assigns an available IP address to allow the client to communicate on the network. If the server decides that the client device cannot be assigned the IP address, it will send a NACK.
A device that connects to a network (local or internet) must be properly configured to communicate on that network. DHCP allows the configuration to happen automatically in almost every device that connects to a network including computers, switches, smartphones, gaming consoles, etc.
DHCP makes a network much easier to manage. Every device on the network can get an IP address with nothing more than their default network settings. The DHCP automatically assigns the IP address to the network devices. Alternative way is to manually assign addresses to each and every device on the network. If a device has an IP address assigned by a DHCP server, the address will change each time the device joins the network. However, if IP addresses are assigned manually, it means administration must not only give out a specific address to each new client, but the existing addresses that are already assigned must be manually unassigned for any other device to use that same address. DHCP is used to deliver the dynamic IP addresses to its clients, however, it doesn’t state that static IP addresses can’t also be used at the same time. A network may contain a mix of devices, one that are getting dynamic addresses and other that have their IP addresses manually assigned to them.
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