See also: Network | Protocols

Acronym: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

Allows computers on a network to be given an IP address from a pool of IP addresses every time they connect to the network. Also, the DHCP server usually sends other configuration data as well, such as the address of the gateway, address of DNS servers, etc. Very common with DSL, Cable Modems, WiFi and libraries; if you go to a public place with Internet access such as a library or coffee shop, you will often be using this protocol.

IP Addresses given out by DHCP are considered to be Dynamic addresses. See also: Static IP


  • Computers connecting via DHCP do not need to modify their settings if they move to another part of the network or go to another DHCP-enabled network. Laptops are especially DHCP-friendly. This requires less maintenance for the ISP or network admin.
  • Increase obscurity by preventing attackers from knowing their target. A dynamic IP address can hurt the effectiveness of an dedicated attack, similar to a NAT.
  • ISP‘s need fewer total addresses. Not all customers are online 24/7 and the IPv4 addresses needed for the whole ISP’s network are less then the number of customers. In the futute, IPv6 will solve the IPv4 space problem.


  • Less convenient for server applications such as FTP and HTTP. Many Peer-to-Peer services help overcome this by treating connections as transitory.

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