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Setting up DHCP Server in Windows 2003

DHCP is a protocol that is designed to reduce the complexity that is involved in IP address allocation. Consider an organization having, say, 20 computers. In this case, it is easily possible for an administrator to specify the IP addresses, default gateways and DNS servers. However, in the case of a corporate network having more than 300 machines, it’s definitely not an easy job to allocate all the parameters to all the machines on the network.

This is where the advantage of DHCP comes in. It totally removes this over head for system administrators and helps to automate the entire process.

For this, you first need to configure a DHCP server on your network. In Windows 2003, this process is simple and requires only an hour of administrative work.

The DHCP sever will assign an IP address that is taken from a predefined scope, for a specified amount of time. If a client requires an IP address, longer than the lease period, they must request an extension before the lease expires. Otherwise that IP address is considered free and would be assigned to another client.

Having a DHCP server on a network is becoming essential, since it can helps to eliminate a major portion of an IT administrator’s job.

A user can change the IP address assigned to him by using the command “ipconfig /release”, followed by “ipconfig /renew” in the command prompt. This will remove the IP address that is currently assigned to the client machine and will request for a new one.

A DHCP server also allows to reserve IP addresses based on the MAC address or host name, so that a particular client can have a fixed IP address.

Installing the DHCP server is made quite easy in Windows 2003. Using the “Manage your server” wizard, you can enter the details you require and have the wizard set up the basics for you.

  • Open “Manage your server” wizard. Select the DHCP server option for the list of server roles and then click Next.

  • The first window, “Scope Name” allows you to specify a scope name and scope description.

  • “IP Address Range” allows you to define the range of IP addresses that the scope can distribute throughout the network and the subnet mask for the scope.

  • “Add Exclusions” window, allows you to specify the addresses that are not distributed by the server.

  • “Lease duration” window, is to specify the lease duration, i.e, how long a client can use an IP address from this scope.

  • In the “Configure DHCP options” page, select the option: “Yes, I want to configure these options now.”

  • Then comes, the “Router (Default Gateway)” page, which allows to specify the default gateway.

  • “Domain name and DNS server” allows to specify the parent domain name and the IP address of the DNS server on the network.

  • Finally the “Activate Scope” window allows you to activate the scope that we have created.


Once a scope is activated, you can view it in the DHCP console.

To open DHCP, click Start and then Settings. After this, click Control Panel and double-click Administrative Tools. Double-click DHCP. From this console, you can edit the scope that is already created and also add new scopes.


Those were the steps to set up a DHCP server and get it running on your network. It hardly takes a little more than 30 minutes of administrative work to get done. These days, having a DHCP server on a network is becoming essential, since it can helps to eliminate a major portion of an IT administrator’s job.

About the Author :
Hari Vishnu, Software Engineer has been working with Bobcares for more than an year now. He has expertise in both Windows and Linux server Administration, and he is considered to be a master when it comes to Windows servers. Apart from the technical side, he has gained a reputation as a gifted stage performer too.

Bobcares is a server management company that helps businesses deliver uninterrupted and secure online services. Our engineers manage close to 51,500 servers that include virtualized servers, cloud infrastructure, physical server clusters, and more.