Professional Learning | Empower Educators

4 What is DHCP and why is it important?


If you had to manually assign IP addresses to even just a few devices, and there was a time this was the case, you could spend a significant amount of your time doing so and increase the opportunity for making errors. DHCP, the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, automatically configures IP addresses and other settings when a device connects to a network. DHCP can also keep track of which IP addresses are available and will only draw from available IP addresses for new devices. It monitors when a device disconnects from a network and can make the IP address t

This is a basic introduction to DHCP.  To learn more, explore the following sub-topic:

You should know the following terms:

  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
  • Host
  • Broadcast request

A DHCP server can automatically assign a device an IP address, its subnet mask, the default gateway, and the DNS server, along with other settings. When a device, referred to as a host, is connected to a network and is set to obtain an IP address automatically, it will send a broadcast request for an IP address. A DHCP server can return a valid IP address from the pool of addresses it has available based on that request. 

This automated process reduces the opportunity for errors, such as manually entering incorrect information or assigning the same IP address to multiple computers. It also greatly reduces the amount of time a network administrator would have had to spend configuring and re-configuring IP addresses for all of the devices that connect to the network.

Here are additional resources you may find useful:

Complete the following task or self-assessment:

Confirm that your DHCP server is correctly connecting hosts to your network by checking the network settings files on several connected devices. Each should have a unique IP address, but all should have the same subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS server.