Every host on a TCP/IP network must have a unique IP address. Each host must be properly configured so that it knows its IP address. When a new host comes online, it must be assigned an IP address that is within the correct range of addresses for the subnet and is not already in use. Although you can manually assign IP addresses to each computer on your network, that task quickly becomes overwhelming if the network has more than a few computers.
That's where DHCP, the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, comes into play. DHCP automatically configures the IP address for every host on a network, thus assuring that each host has a valid, unique IP address. DHCP even automatically reconfigures IP addresses as hosts come and go. As you can imagine, DHCP can save a network administrator many hours of tedious configuration work.
In this tutorial, you discover the ins and outs of DHCP: what it is, how it works, and how to set it up.