Windows DHCP Servers

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is a core networking service offered in Windows 2000 Server used to dynamically allocate IP addresses and associated information to TCP/IP-based clients. Although the function provided by DHCP is similar to what was provided in NT 4, a number of minor changes have taken place that you should be aware of. Again, note that this section is meant as an introduction to DHCP, and is provided as a basis for the Server portion of the exam. A much more detailed explanation of the configuration of DHCP will be covered during the networking services exam portion of the series.

The DHCP Server service is installed automatically by Windows 2000 Server, but is not configured (and may even be disabled) without further input. It can be removed or added if necessary, using the Add/Remove Windows Components option in Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel (it falls under Networking Services). Once installed, the DHCP server is configured using the DHCP MMC snap-in, which can be found under Administrative Tools. If the server running Windows 2000 is part of a workgroup or non-Windows 2000 domain, the DHCP service will be started, but you will need to manually configure scopes of addresses for the DHCP service to hand out (more on this in a bit). If DHCP is installed on a system that is part of a Windows 2000 domain, the DHCP service cannot be started until the DHCP server is authorized in Active Directory.

The authorization of a DHCP server in Active Directory can only be done by a member of the Enterprise Admins group. This is meant to be used as a control mechanism in order to alleviate the problems caused by people (such as other administrators) installing ‘rogue’ DHCP servers which end up having an impact on the configuration of a TCP/IP-based network (since a client receives an IP address from the first server that responds to its request). In a Windows 2000 Active Directory domain, only authorized Windows 2000 DHCP servers can hand out IP addresses. Note that this only works in conjunction with Windows 2000. A Windows NT 4 DHCP server can (and will) still hand out addresses, and will not be impacted by authorization. However, if another administrator tried to install a Windows 2000 DHCP server and start the service without it being authorized, the server would query AD, and then not start the service since it would find it is not authorized on the network. Note that an unauthorized DHCP server appears in the DHCP tool with a downwards-pointing red arrow (which can also mean that the service is not started, or a scope is not configured).
In order to authorize a DHCP server, right-click on the server and choose Authorize. To manage authorized DHCP servers (including adding or removing authorized servers), right click the DHCP icon, and choose Manage Authorized Servers.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.