What is DHCP lease time?

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What is DHCP lease time?
DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and it involves automatic assignment of IP addresses to computers connected to a specific network or DHCP server. Using DCHP, the server will have a pool of ready-to-use IP addresses for “leasing” to computers within a network. When a particular computer is assigned an IP address, there is actually a sort of time limit in using this specific IP address. This is the DHCP lease time. It simply pertains to the time or duration a particular IP address will be used by a computer connected to the DHCP server.

DHCP is widely used and favored by network administrators and IT specialists for the ease in configuration of IP addresses. Using this protocol, a person won’t have to make configurations on a per computer basis just to assign IP addresses. This method is referred to as “static” or “manual” assigning of IP addresses. For a network that is composed of a large number of computers, static IP address assignment may not be the practical choice. It would also be very tiring and time-consuming to configure several computers in different locations or different floors in a particular company. With DHCP, IT specialists will just have to deal with the main computer or DHCP server to do the configurations.

DHCP lease time can be set by users or IT experts depending on the needs of a particular company or network. Lease times could be as short as a few minutes or the lease expiry could be set to “forever”. Once the lease time is consumed, the DHCP server will either give another IP address or renew the existing IP address of a particular computer. For a large network setup where there a lot of computers connecting to one network, shorter lease times are usually preferred. This will enable more efficiency in terms of IP address usage, and is a big help especially when IP addresses are limited in number. But in smaller networks setups, it is best to set the DHCP lease time to longer hours so as not to disrupt the connection to the DHCP server.

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One Response

  1. Mark R. Diamond

    November 14, 2011 3:32 am

    I thought that this gave a nice clear explanation of DHCP lease times.

    Interesting that you say ‘shorter lease times are usually preferred’. For the users who did not get an initial connection, having short lease times means that they get a chance to connect more quickly. For the person who already has a lease and wants to hang onto it, having longer lease times is good. Google have recently done some work on usage based lease-times. Their approach is essentially the Matthew principle of ‘to those who have, more shall be given.” There is a paper on it at http://http://conferences.sigcomm.org/imc/2007/papers/imc17.pdf


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