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What are fixed and dynamic IP addresses?

In a traditional TCP/IP network architecture each computer is assigned a permanent IP address. This requires manual configuration of each and every computer. Once the address is assigned it will not change, unless someone does it manually. It is called a fixed IP address. When hundreds or thousands of computers are involved this can be a lot of work. Sometimes networks are reconfigured and large numbers of machines must be given new IP addresses. Each time a computer is added care must be taken to ensure that it does not use an IP address already assigned to another computer on the same network. To improve this situation, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) was developed.

A DHCP server is a software program that assigns IP addresses to computers with no manual intervention. This has tremendous advantages in virtually any network environment. Administrators of large networks save many hundreds of hours per year over manual configuration of computers. Computers may be added or removed with no impact on the network configuration and no concerns about address conflict. Users on even the smallest networks benefit as they do not need to know how to configure a TCP/IP control panel. A computer on such a network is said to have a dynamic IP address.

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