PDQ Boot Camp: 4 – How to Set up DHCP

What good are computers without an address and what good is a network without some automation? DHCP allows computers to automatically acquire an address without having to manually set it. DHCP is included as part of Windows’ Server and offers a nicer set of features over a standard wireless router.

To start, navigate to the Server Manager and click the Add Roles and Features button, it has a big number 2 next to it.

Once the Add Roles and Feature Wizard is open click next, select Role-based or Feature-based installation, click next, stick with the default selection of the current server. Click next and check the box next to DHCP after which you will be prompted to include the management tools. Accept the prompt for the management tool by clicking add features, now click next, next and install! Enjoy a little wait time as the server gets everything in order.

Installation is Complete, Now What?

Once the installation is complete you’ll want to click on the flag icon in the upper right-hand section of the Server Manager window and then click the “Complete DHCP configuration” button to open the DHCP Post-Install configuration wizard. Within the wizard click next, you’ll be prompted for the credentials used to authorize the DHCP server in Active Directory and if you are a domain admin the default option will work otherwise specify another user account that can. Once that’s set, even if you’re a little afraid of it, you’re going to click the commit button. Once that’s done the DHCP server is ready to be configured!

Opening the DHCP Console

Now to open the DHCP console! You can find it under Tools > DHCP in the Server Manager. Here we’re going to create a new scope, this is the range of IP addresses that will be issued by the DHCP server. Right click on the IPv4 section in the console and select New Scope.

Give it a Name

Give a name to the scope, click next. On the next page, we’ll configure what address range the server should hand out and what network scope this range will exist in. I wouldn’t recommend configuring the DHCP server to hand out each and every address as you’d have dynamic addresses overlapping with static addresses such as your router. The length and subnet mask are tied together so when one is updated the other will as well, you’ll only need to configure one.

How to install DHCP on your server

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Next, you’ll be asked to configure the lease response delay and address ranges within the first range to exclude, unless you have a reason to you can leave this one alone. Now we move onto the lease duration, we recommend leaving the default of eight days but if you do change this be sure to keep it in mind when you configure scavenging. Onwards to a page with a choice! We’ll be asked if we want to setup DHCP options now and the answer will be yes. For this next part, we’ll be asked what routers (or default gateway) to add, for 99.99% of us this will be a single address. On the next window we’ll be asked DNS information that the DHCP server will advertise, if you’ve followed the guide so far the parent domain should be automatically set to the same as your domain name and for the purposes of this guide that would be correct.

Now for the DNS server don’t put in public ones like 8.8.8.8 or 1.1.1.1 use your AD DNS servers, this should automatically be filled out but if there are any missing you know should be there add them now. WINS is next and unless you have a pressing need it can be skipped. On the next and final page, we’ll be asked if this scope should be activated now. If you say yes the DHCP server will begin handing out addresses immediately, if that’s OK with you go with yes otherwise no and don’t forget to activate it later if you click no!

Enabling Dynamic DNS Record Updates

Now we’re going to enable dynamic DNS record updates for the DHCP client, this will help to keep records entered via DHCP updated automatically, static records will not be affected. To access this right click the IPv4 leaf, select properties, and then open the DNS tab in the new window. Now select the radio button for “Always dynamically update DNS records”, check the box “Discard A and PTR records when the lease is deleted”. By enabling these options you’ll ensure DHCP clients are entered into the DNS records when they are active and removed when they are no longer active.

Setting up the Account that Updates First

Next we’re going to set the account that will be making the updates but first, the account must be created. Open Active Directory Users and Computers and in an OU or container of your choice create a new user account, don’t forget to give it a strong password that doesn’t expire! I recommend naming it svc_DHCP and there is no need to assign in domain admin or any other special permissions, standard user permissions are sufficient. Once created let’s head back to the IPv4 properties window and click the Advanced tab and then click the “Credentials…” button next to DNS dynamic update registration credentials. Enter the user name, domain, and password twice then click OK. Now the svc_DHCP account will own the record updates instead of the computer accounts.

That’s all there is to it! Now the DHCP server will be sure to tell your DNS server about any new clients added and will ensure the records remain as correct, accurate, and timely as possible.

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