DHCP Lease Time – What is it and How does it work?

You all must have read the big signs in front of some shops or houses saying, “On lease.” On lease means that the property is available for use for a specified amount of time. After the expiry of time, you need to either empty the place or renew the time interval. DHCP servers follow a similar mechanism. DHCP stands for dynamic host configuration protocol. It is a network protocol. Now, don’t confuse. We have jotted down everything you need to know about DHCP and DHCP lease. But before knowing about the DHCP Lease Time, we need to know about what is dynamic IP addressing.

DHCP server
DHCP server

We know that every computer has an IP address that works as an identifier for the computer when it connects to a network. The internet assigns these IP addresses to the computers that connects to a network in two ways. Either statically or dynamically. In the static allocation of IP addresses, the user must manually assign the IP address to the computer.

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Assign IP Address Manually

To do this, a user has to open the computer’s network configuration page and then manually type the IP address. In addition to the IP address, the user also has to enter the subnet mask, default gateway, and also the DNS server address. Every time another computer adds to the network, the same process has to be repeats. This is a very tedious job, especially if there are a lot of computers in the network and that is why DHCP Lease Time is important. Also, you have to make sure that each IP address assigned is unique; otherwise, there will be a problem of IP conflict. This IP conflict will make the computers with redundant IP addresses disconnect from the network.

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Assign IP Address Dynamically

The second way of assigning IP addresses is to assign addresses dynamically. In a dynamic IP address, a computer gets it’s IP address from a DHCP server. A DHCP server automatically assigns a computer an IP address and a DHCP Lease Time. In addition to the IP address, it also provides the computer with a subnet mask, default gateway, and also a DNS server. To make the IP addressing dynamic, all you have to do is open the computer’s network configuration page and check the radio button which says “Obtain an IP address automatically.”

DHCP local scope
DHCP local scope

Once you select this option, the computer broadcasts a request to the DHCP server for an IP address on the network. Then the DHCP server assigns an IP address and delivers it to the computer.  Your computer now has a dynamic IP address.

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Viewing And Verifying Different Settings

To view and verify all the different settings that are provided by the DHCP server, go to the command prompt and type “ipconfig /all.”

This command will show you all the different settings such as IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS server provided by the DHCP server. This command shows some more information as well, namely “DHCP enabled,” “lease obtained,” and “lease expires.” The status of the DHCP enabled field is “Yes.” This means that the computer is getting its IP address from a DHCP server. 

To understand the other two fields’ meaning, let’s get back to our topic, i.e., DHCP lease time. Now that we have understood what dynamic IP address is, let’s get started!

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What is the DHCP lease time?

The internet assigns IP addresses to computers by the DHCP server on a network from its scope. The scope of the DHCP server is the range of IP addresses that a DHCP server can assign. For example, let’s consider that a DHCP server has a scope from 10.0.0.1 to 10.0.0.100.Now, this DHCP server can only assign IP addresses from this scope (i.e., 100 IP addresses) to the computers in a network. These beginning and ending values of the scope are customizable. The network administrator can alter these values according to the need of that network.

DHCP lease time
DHCP lease time

Now, when the computers receive the IP addresses from the DHCP server, it assigns these IP addresses on lease. So, the computer doesn’t own the IP address, but it’s a DHCP Lease Time. 

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Why Lease Is Important?

A lease is the amount of time an IP address is assigned to a computer. The reason for the DHCP Lease Time is to help make sure that the DHCP server does not run out of IP addresses in its scope. If the computer doesn’t lease IP addresses, considering the above example, if there are 105 computers in the network, only 100 computers would be assigned with IP addresses.

The rest of the five computers will have no IP addresses and hence would disconnect from the network. Also, even if one of the 100 computers is not in use, the IP address assigned to that computer will be blocked and cannot be used by other computer requesting connection. Whereas, if the IP addresses are assigned on a lease, if one of the computers is not in use, then its IP address will be assigned to another computer requesting an IP address.

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DHCP Lease Time Working

The DHCP server assigns a specific amount of time to the computer for the usage of the IP address assigned to it. This time interval is DHCP lease time. Once the DHCP lease time expires, the computer can no longer use the IP address assigned to it by the DHCP server and disconnects from the network. If the computer desires to still be connected to the network after the expiry of lease time, it has to send a request for renewal of IP address. On the reception of the renewal request, the server assigns the computer with a new IP address, and the computer remains connected to the network.

DHCP Server-Client
DHCP Server-Client

So, the fields “lease obtained” contains the date on which the IP address is assigned to the computer, and the field “lease expires” contains the date on which the lease time will expire.

The bottom line is that the dynamic addressing of IPs is the best way of IP addressing. The DHCP server is present in every network. Either it is in-built in your router, or there is a separate server for the handling leases. Without a DHCP server, each computer in the network has to be statically addressed. There is a provision in the routers to alter the DHCP lease time settings.

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Watch: What Is Lease Time

How to alter DHCP lease time settings in a router?

To alter the DHCP lease time settings in a router, follow the below steps:

 1. Open any browser on your system.

 2. Type the default gateway of your router in the address bar.

 3. Login into your router using the username and password.

 4. Search for the DHCP option in the advanced settings of your router.

 5. Under DHCP, select DHCP settings.

 6. Now, you can easily alter the DHCP settings of your router.

 Now that we know all about DHCP lease time let us know how long the DHCP lease time should be.

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How long should the DHCP lease time be?

              The optimal DHCP lease time depends on the type of network. Here are some guidelines that may come handy while altering the DHCP lease time of your router. 

  • For a wired network, the DHCP time can be as long as eight days. In a wired network, the devices don’t usually leave the system. Hence, there is no need for a short DHCP lease time as a shorter DHCP lease time increases the network traffic.
  • For a wireless network, it advisable to keep the DHCP lease time as short as 24 hours as the devices in this network tend to leave the network and may not reconnect for a couple of days. Keeping a short DHCP lease time will ensure the regular devices have the same IP address.
  • For hotspot networks, the DHCP lease time should be as short as an hour. The maximum DHCP lease time for such networks should not exceed 8 hours.

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Conclusion

And voila! That is all you need to know about the DHCP lease time. We hope this article was useful for clearing your doubts regarding DHCP lease time. Do leave your precious feedback. Your feedback is what encourages us to keep writing for you. Thank you, and enjoy surfing. Ciao!

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