DHCP in Windows Server 2003


DHCP in Windows Server 2003

Dynamic        – Means that clients IP address may change

Host             – Indicates that this is a system for clients, e.g. XP machines

Configuration  – A clue that you are in charge of the options, e.g. DNS Server

Protocol         – The rules controlling the flow of packets between client and server

Tutorial for DHCP in Windows 2003

Benefits of DHCP

All clients and servers need an IP address on a TCP/IP network.  How will you configure those dotty dot numbers on your TCP/IP property tabs?  Manually, or automatically via DHCP?  Let us investigate what advantages an automatic DHCP service has over the manual alternative.

  • DHCP needs much less effort – manual configuration is boring and labour intensive.  Above all, DHCP options give a sense of central control.
  • Easy to update a default gateway or DNS server’s IP address.  Manual changes would be a nightmare, you would have to visit every machine.
  • No IP duplicate addresses.  Provided you configure the DHCP scopes intelligently, there will never be another ‘Duplicate IP address’ problem to eat into your valuable time.

Strategies for the clients and servers

10 years ago, when I first saw DHCP, I thought that you would need one DHCP server on each subnet – wrong.  What I now recommend as a default, is two DHCP servers for the whole company.  For those subnets without a DHCP you configure a DHCP Relay Agent.

If you have two DHCP servers, then provide redundancy by splitting each scope so that each DHCP server gets a non-overlapping range.  For example:

Server A: to
Server B: to

Each scope has a class C Subnet Mask /24 (

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Strategies for the Servers

What are you going to do about the IP addresses for the servers themselves?

If you try the strategy of DHCP address for file and print servers, consider a RESERVATION for each server.  Slowly I am warming to this DHCP idea, the killer advantage is that you can set DNS and Router options even for the servers.  Let me elaborate, if you set server IP addresses manually, but then you change the default gateway, you may forget to change the servers default gateway.  The result would be a loss of what ever service the servers were providing.  However, if the servers have a reserved IP address then they come under the umbrella of your scope options and so there would be no extra work, and no loss of service.

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DHCP is now a well established strategy for providing computers with IP addresses.  However, it is full of surprises and hidden treasures, take the time to develop your DHCP tactics, then explore the properties of both the DHCP server icon and the scopes.  I have a series of tutorials to help you.


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