What is DHCP? - dummies

By Dan Gookin

On a modern Ethernet network, with a robust router as overseer, IP addresses are assigned to each PC as it joins the network. The process, which is automatic, is referred to as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, or DHCP.

There’s nothing to set up: Your router’s configuration program most likely contains a page that directs the router to use DHCP to set IP addresses. You can turn off the option, but there’s no reason to do so.

  • There are two parts to DHCP: the client and the host. The host exists on your router, which assigns IP addresses. The client is on your computer. It asks the host for an IP addresses and then assigns that address to the network connection.

  • When your computer isn’t connected to a network, its DHCP client program assigns a random IP address to the computer. That IP address is useless because the PC isn’t connected to a network. But the random IP address confuses some users because it appears as though the computer has a legitimate IP address. It does not.

  • The best way to test a network connection is to ping the router.

  • You can configure the router to specify which range of IP addresses to use. Again, you have no reason to change the DHCP settings for a small, home or office network.