DHCP Error: What It Is And How To Fix It

How to fix a DHCP error

A router controlling a network of devices

 

pictafolio / Getty Images 

There are two things that can cause a DHCP error. One is the configuration on your computer or device that allows a DHCP server to assign it an IP. The other is the configuration of the DHCP server itself.

A DHCP error means the server on your network that provides an Internet Protocol (IP) address for devices isn't able to assign your device an IP address.

How the DHCP Error Occurs

Since the DHCP setting can break your internet connection, the error can appear in many forms. Ultimately the main symptom is that you won't be able to access the internet.

The DHCP error is caused when the DHCP server or router on your network isn't able to automatically adjust your computer or devices IP address to join your network.

This usually results in a network connection error when you try to access the internet with a web browser.

Screenshot of an internet connection error in Chrome

What makes a DHCP error so difficult to troubleshoot is that the error doesn't always include any mention of DHCP. However, you can confirm if a DHCP error is the cause of your internet connection issue in a couple ways.

Troubleshoot Problems to Fix DHCP Error

The easiest way to fix internet connection issues is by letting Windows automatically fix your internet settings for you. If your DHCP settings are incorrect, Windows will attempt to fix them.

  1. To do this, just right click on the network connection icon in the Windows taskbar and select Troubleshoot problems.

    Screenshot of troubleshoot problems in Windows taskbar
  2. The network troubleshooter will identify any settings that may be causing an internet connection problem. It'll present you with the option to apply the suggested fixes. If your DHCP settings are causing an error, these will get fixed as well. Select Apply this fix to apply any suggested changes.

    Screenshot of the Windows troubleshooting error fix
  3. If the automatic fixes worked, you should see your network connection working. Open a web browser and try connect to the internet. If it still doesn't work, you will need to manually fix your DHCP settings.

    Screenshot of a network connection working

Manually Fix DHCP Settings

If the automatic troubleshooter didn't fix your DHCP settings, you can do so manually.

  1. Select the Start menu and select the Settings gear icon. This will open the Windows settings window. Select Network & Internet from the Windows Settings window.

    Screenshot of the Windows Settings window
  2. This will open the Network Status window. Scroll down and select Change adapter options.

    Screenshot of the network status window in Windows 10
  3. This will display all of the network adapters that are configured on your computer. Right-click the active adapter and select Properties.

    Screenshot of network adapter properties in Windows 10
  4. In the Wi-Fi Properties window, select Internet Protocol Version 4 and select Properties.

    Screenshot of the Wi-Fi Properties window in Windows 10
  5. If Obtain an IP address automatically isn't selected, then select it.

    Screenshot of the Internet Protocol Properties window in Windows 10
  6. Select OK and Close to save the new settings. Restart your computer.

This setting allows the DHCP server or router on your network to assign your computer the next available IP address on the network.

If you noticed that the Obtain an IP address automatically setting was already selected, the DHCP error may not be caused by your computer's network settings at all. It could be caused by your network router settings.

Fix a DHCP Error with Router Settings

On a typical corporate network, it's a DNS server that manages the IP address of devices on the network. All DHCP settings are managed by your IT department, so if you're having network connection issues, you should contact your IT help desk.

On a home network however, DHCP settings in your router manage the IP addresses of devices on the network. If you're seeing DHCP errors, you should check the router settings.

To do this, you'll need to access your home router as an administrator.

The window system of most major routers are slightly different, but in general you can find the settings described below in menus that have similar names.

  1. From the main router screen, find the Network Settings or the Local IP Network window.

    Screenshot of network settings in a router
  2. In the Network Settings window, you'll notice several important settings.

    • Gateway Address: This is the IP address for the router.
    • DHCP Beginning Address: Starting IP for addresses of devices on your network.
    • DHCP Ending Address: Ending IP for addresses of devices on your network.
    • DHCP Lease Time: Amount of time devices keep the same IP before they get renewed and change.
  3. The DHCP beginning and ending addresses should match the Gateway address except for the last number. If the pattern doesn't match this, the router's DHCP settings could be corrupt or otherwise incorrect. Select the Restore Default Settings button if available. Select OK to confirm the settings change.

    Screenshot of confirming default router settings
  4. Restart the router and any devices on your network having DHCP error issues. After the restart, test to see if your internet connection is working.

DHCP errors aren't always easy to troubleshoot, but by confirming the DHCP settings on both the router and the devices on your network, fixing the issue is usually easy.