How To Release and Renew IP Addresses in Microsoft Windows

ipconfig /release and /renew
ipconfig /release and /renew.

Network technicians learn how to release and renew an IP address as part of their standard training. Procedures vary depending on the kinds of devices involved, and often there is more than one method that works.

Any computer user can learn these same procedures. A person may need to release and renew IP addresses in these scenarios:

  • when connecting a computer directly to a broadband modem
  • when physically moving a computer from one network to another (such as from an office network to home, or from home to an Internet hotspot)
  • when experiencing an unexpected network outage

Under normal operating conditions, a device can continue using an IP address indefinitely after it has received one. Networks normally also re-assign correct addresses to devices when they first join. However, technical glitches with DHCP and with the network hardware itself can lead to conditions such as IP conflicts where connections over the IP network suddenly stop functioning. Releasing and renewing the IP address has the effect of resetting the underlying IP connection, which often eliminates the problem (at least temporarily).

Follow the recommended steps below to release and renew the address of any computer running the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Release and Renew IP Addresses from the Windows Command Line

Those comfortable with using the Windows command prompt can use this method (do not type the quotes when entering the commands described below):

  1. Open a command prompt window. On Windows 10 and Windows 8, navigate to and open the Command Prompt app. (Keep this app pinned to the Start screen if using it often.). On Windows 7, click the Start menu button on the Windows taskbar, click Run... on this menu, type 'cmd' (without the quotes) in the text box that appears, and press Enter.
  1. Inside the command prompt window, type 'ipconfig' and press enter to visually confirm the computer is currently holding an IP address (otherwise the release command has no effect).
  2. Assuming the computer is holding a current IP address, type 'ipconfig /release' and press Enter. This triggers Windows to disengage its network connection and stop supporting that particular address.
  3. Type 'ipconfig /renew' and press enter to obtain a new address.

General Tips for Address Release and Renew

Windows may receive the same IP address after renewal as it had before. This is normal.  The desired effect of tearing down the old connection and starting a new one still occurs independent of what address numbers were involved.

Attempts to renew the IP address may fail. One possible error message

An error occurred while renewing interface [interface name] : unable to contact your DHCP server.  Request has timed out.

indicates that the DHCP server may be malfunctioning or is currently unreachable. A person must normally reboot either the client device or the server in order to recover.

Windows also provides a Troubleshooting section inside the Network and Sharing Center that can run various diagnostics including an equivalent IP renewal procedure if it detects that is needed.