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How To Configure DHCP Server On A Cisco Router

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DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is the protocol used by network devices (such as PCs, network printers, etc) to automatically obtain correct network parameters so they can access network and Internet resources such as IP Address, Default Gateway, Domain Name, DNS Servers and more.

A DHCP Server is considered necessary in today's networks. Devices usally found providing this service are Windows servers, routers and layer 3 switches.

This article describes how to configure basic DHCP parameters on a Cisco router, enabling it to act as a DHCP server for your network.

Users should also read our article Resolving Cisco Switch & Router ‘DHCP Server Pool Exhausted-Empty’ Error – Client IP Assignment Failure to help them deal with the most common problem that arises when the DHCP server stops serving IP addresses to network clients.

Cisco Router DHCP Configuration - Example Scenario

For the sake of this article, suppose we have the network shown in the following diagram, for which we would like to enable the DHCP service on our Cisco router.

The router will act as a DHCP server for the network. IP Addresses already assigned to our switch ( and File Server ( will be excluded from the DHCP pool, to ensure they are not given out to other hosts and cause an IP address conflict.

First step is to enable the DHCP service on our router, which by default is enabled.


First step is to enable the DHCP service on our router, which by default is enabled:

R1# configure terminal
R1(config)# service dhcp

Next step is to create the DHCP pool that defines the network of IP addresses that will be given out to the clients. Note that 'NET-POOL' is the name of the DHCP IP Pool we are creating:

R1(config)# ip dhcp pool NET-POOL
R1(dhcp-config)# network

This tells the router to issue IP addresses for the network, which translates to the range - We will have to exclude the IP addresses we want later on.

We now define the DHCP parameters that will be given to each client. These include the default gateway (default-router), dns servers, domain and lease period (days):

R1(dhcp-config)# default-router
R1(dhcp-config)# dns-server
R1(dhcp-config)# domain-name
R1(dhcp-config)# lease 9

 The domain-name and lease parameters are not mandatory. By default, the lease time for an IP address is one day, however we can specify any time range we need. For example, if we need to set the lease time for 4 hours and 30 minutes we would use the following command under our DHCP pool:

R1(dhcp-config)# lease 0 4 30

The above command is interpreted as follows: 0 (Zero) days, 4 hours and 30 minutes.

All we need now is to exclude the IP addresses we don't want our DHCP server giving out. Drop back to 'global configuration mode' and enter the following:

R1(config)# ip dhcp excluded-address
R1(config)# ip dhcp excluded-address

This excludes IP addresses - & As you can see, there's an option to exclude a range of IP addresses or a specific address.

The above configuration is all you need to get the DHCP server running for your network. We'll provide a few more commands you can use to troubleshoot and ensure it's working correctly.

The following command will allow you to check which clients have been served by the DHCP:

R1# show ip dhcp binding
Bindings from all pools not associated with VRF:
IP address Client-ID/ Lease expiration Type
Hardware address/
User name 0100.1e7a.c409 Jan 19 2009 03:06 PM Automatic 0100.1e7a.c3c1 Jan 19 2009 09:00 PM Automatic 0100.1ebe.923b Jan 19 2009 02:25 PM Automatic 0100.1b53.5ccc Jan 19 2009 02:03 PM Automatic 0100.1e7a.261d Jan 19 2009 07:52 PM Automatic

Notice that IP addresses & have not been assigned to the clients.


In this article we've covered how to configure a Cisco router to act as a DHCP server and configure available DHCP options. We also saw how you can obtain general information about the service. There are more options available with the DHCP service, however this basic article should cover most of your network needs.

Future DHCP articles will explore advanced options and debugging for more complex networks containing VLANs and IP Telephony.

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