On an average home or office network there are two types of IP address. These are your external and your internal addresses.
The first type, your external IP address, is the address that is given to your router (by your ISP - normally dynamically), and is what websites will see when you access the internet.
On the other hand, your internal IP address is the IP address that is given to you, normally by your router, on your home network. Each device that connects to your router will have a separate internal IP address, although they will use the same external IP address (using a technology called 'NAT', but we won;t get into that now!).
When it comes to internal (LAN) IP addresses there are two ways you can assign one to your computer.
- Using the DHCP on the router to automatically assign addresses to devices that want to connect to your network.
- Assign a static IP address manually & individually to each device.
This article will look at both the advantages and disadvantages of using DHCP to assign IP addresses and of individually assigning static IP addresses to all your devices.
What is DHCP?
DHCP, or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, is what allows your router to automatically assign all the devices and computers on your network with an individual IP address.
It is a common feature on a wireless router and it allows users of your network to quickly and easily connect to your router. It differs from a static IP address in that you will receive a new IP address each time your device connects to the router.
Using DHCP on a router to assign IP addresses ensures that each device has its own individual address. As well as being more convenient than giving each device a static address, it can reduce conflicts in IP addresses in your network.
What Is A Static IP Address?
A static IP address is an IP address that is the same every time you use your computer. You assign these addresses manually on your device and the address never changes even if you restart your computer.
They are especially useful in cases where you or an application needs to know your device’s IP address. For example, when setting up a local server and certain types of gaming (port forwarding etc).
If you are going to statically assign, just make sure the addresses are within the same network and that? there are no duplicates! This can cause big issues in your network!
You can have DHCP AND static IPs in your network, as long as they are on the same IP network. However, we highly recommend ?you keep the actual static IPs and the DHCP range separate. For example:
- Network usable IPs would be 192.168.1.1 thru 192.168.1.254? (192.168.1.0/24).
- DHCP range would be 192.168.1.100 thru 192.168.1.254
- Static IPs can be configured between 192.168.1.2 thru 192.168.1.99 (usually 192.168.1.1 is the Default Gateway ie the router)
Here's A Firstly Brief, Then In-depth Video Looking At DHCP
How To Enable DHCP On A Wireless Router (or disable it!)
Most routers have a DHCP server built in nowadays, and as such, it is often easiest to use the DHCP function on your router to assign IP addresses. Note that these steps are completely generic and a rough guide. if they don't fit for your router, we recommend you consult your router's manual.
To configure the DHCP function on your wireless router, follow these steps:
1. First, you need to access your router. You can usually do this by logging into your router using a browser window. This can be done by entering the router’s IP address into your browser and entering the login credentials.
If you are unsure what your router’s IP address is check your default gateway on your Windows PC/laptop:
- Open a Command Prompt. Do this by typing CMD in the Start Menu
- Type in 'ipconfig' and press enter':
- Look for the 'Default Gateway' under the adapter you use. Your adapter will depend on how you are connected to your router. Either by Wireless ot Ethernet (cabled). The address will look something like this:
- The 'Default Gateway' will almost certainly be your router's IP address!
2. Secondly, you will need to enter the section for setting up your LAN network.
3. Somewhere in this section, there should be an option to use your router as the DHCP server. Check this option! And of course uncheck if you want to disable it!
4. You will then need to select an address at which the DHCP will start assigning IP addresses - usually x.x.x.100 (a real example would be 192.168.1.100 or 10.0.0.100) is a good bet. If you aren’t sure which address you want to use, there will often be a default number that you can just leave in place.
5. After this, you should enter a number for the ending IP address. When doing this make sure the last block of numbers is not higher than x.x.x.254 (for example 192.168.1.254 or 10.0.0.254).
6. Sometimes you will have to set the DNS. If this is the case it is best to choose the one provided by your ISP. Alternatively, you could use 188.8.131.52 or 184.108.40.206 which are well-known public DNS servers.
7. The final step is to configure your devices to allow the DHCP to automatically set your IP address. This is usually enabled by default, although to check you can search in the Local Area Connection settings of your Windows device, to see if DHCP is not enabled.
Is DHCP Safe & Secure? Maybe I Should Disable It?
The reasons for disabling DHCP is that any device that connects to your network will be automatically assigned an IP address. This will, of course, allow that device to connect to your network.
Disabling DHCP, however, means that only devices you assign a static IP address to will be able to connect to your network. This means that a network without DHCP can theoretically be more secure than one with it.
However, this only really is an advantage if you have an open network that doesn’t require a password to connect to it. If your network is WPA2 protected then you already have good outside security to stop unwanted people connecting to your router.
If you do choose to disable DHCP for security reasons, make sure you choose an uncommon range of IP address when configuring your LAN subnet. As most default IP address fall within a certain range, if you don’t change this they could still be easily guessed by hackers.
DHCP: Wrapping Up
Hopefully, you have found our guide to DHCP useful!
In general, DHCP is a really useful router function that can save you time and effort when it comes to allowing devices to connect to your network.
While there are some specific advantages in certain situations to using a static IP address, for most people, using DHCP will be the way to go.
If you have any questions, please ask in the comment section below.