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DHCP - Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

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Definition: DHCP allows a computer to join an IP-based network without having a pre-configured IP address. DHCP is a protocol that assigns unique IP addresses to devices, then releases and renews these addresses as devices leave and re-join the network.

Internet service providers usually use DHCP to help customers join their networks with minimum setup effort required. Likewise, home network equipment like broadband routers offers DHCP support for added convenience in joining home computers to local area networks (LANs).

DHCP environments require a DHCP server set up with the appropriate configuration parameters for the given network. Key DHCP parameters include the range or "pool" of available IP addresses, the correct subnet masks, plus network gateway and name server addresses.

Devices running DHCP client software can then automatically retrieve these settings from DHCP servers as needed. DHCP clients are built into all common network operating systems. Using DHCP on a network means system administrators do not need to configure these parameters individually for each client device.

Also Known As: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

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