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Which is preferrable, a Server 2003 DHCP server or a router DHCP server?

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Last Modified: 2012-02-19
I have two Windows 2003 servers.  One is the primary DC, DNS, and WINS server.  The other a backup DC, DNS, and WINS, and Exchange/File server.  Both have DHCP running (with different address ranges) so that a server reboot will not cause DHCP issues.

We do a lot of our support in-house, but farm out more complex things.  This configuration was set up an IT service company I no longer use.  One of the reasons I changed is that they did oddball things that I now know to be incorrect (like changing the http: port to create a "secure" http: server).

The more conservative IT Support company I now use once commented that the router should be the DHCP server.  Whenever I call for support and they are gathering basic information, the support people always assume that the router is the DHCP server.  Some are quite surprised that the Server 2003 machine is the DHCP server.

I am only serving requests on the local 192.168... subnet.  All we are providing is an address, WINS server, and DNS server.  Several addresses are fixed by MAC addresses.

Is a router preferred as a DHCP server?  Clearly the current system works, but I don't know if the is any interaction between DHCP and WINS, DNS, or AD that could cause issues.

Thank you,
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Ernie BeekSenior infrastructure engineer
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Commented:
I use a different rule, even I agree with Alan:

What equipment has more uptime ?
If your router is up more often than your servers, I'd prefer router.
If your server would be happy to have one service less... or your router has good service of DHCP (very very RARE!) so I'd use the router.

Use DHCP on Win Server has feature benefits like integration with AD.
You have very few reasons to use DHCP on router:

1) in a server outage / migration (with both server off) you'll still have a DHCP server

2) router boot time is minimal, so time from OFFLINE (power outage on everything) to working is minimal (tipical < 15 sec) ... if you use a server as DHCP and have to check disks... your delay to have dhcp is 10min... and a tipical starting time should be 2 min.
While you have no DHCP, any appliance (PrintServer, Printers w/NIC, ...) will get no IP, do not work or get invalid IP by his own decision).

3) it's much easier to enable / disable / configure a dhcp on router (just a tablet with web access and 1 minute!).

 That's why lot of technicians love to use router as DHCP server.
 
I leave my routers as secondary DHCP servers, with just a few IPs in range (from 2 to 10... depends how many appliances has my network) just in case my primary DHCP (a server or firewall) do not works, it's offline or something happened to them (cable disconnect , ...)
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Leon FesterSenior Solutions Architect
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Harold KrongelbPresident/Engineering Supervisor

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All solutions provided good information.  My router has a very good DHCP, as far as it goes.  I have two machines serving as DHCP servers (non-overlapping ranges), so it is unlikely there will be no DHCP server available.

The only reason I even asked the question is that so many people assume the router is the DHCP server.  Every time I contact any tech support about a software issue that could be network-related, they assume that I have a router-based DHCP server.

Thank you for all the assistance.
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