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"APIPA - Automatic Private IP Addressing"

Definition: A feature of Microsoft Windows, APIPA is a DHCP failover mechanism. With APIPA, DHCP
clients can obtain IP addresses when DHCP servers are nonfunctional. APIPA exists in all popular versions
of Windows except Windows NT.

When a DHCP server fails, APIPA allocates addresses in the private range 169.254.0.1 to 169.254.255.254.
Clients verify their address is unique on the LAN using ARP. When the DHCP server is again able to
service requests, clients update their addresses automatically.

In APIPA, all devices use the default network mask 255.255.0.0 and all reside on the same subnet.

APIPA is enabled on all DHCP clients in Windows unless the computer's Registry is modified to disable it.
APIPA can be enabled on individual network adapters.

Also Known As: Automatic Private IP Addressing; AutoNet


Examples: Because APIPA uses IP addresses in the private Class B space, APIPA is a feature generally only
useful on home or other small intranet LANs

What protocol and port does DHCP use? :DHCP, like BOOTP runs over UDP, utilizing ports 67 and 68.

In a subnetted environment, how does the DHCP server discover what subnet a request has come from?

DHCP client messages are sent to off-net servers by DHCP relay agents, which are often a part of an IP
router. The DHCP relay agent records the subnet from which the message was received in the DHCP
message header for use by the DHCP server.

Note: a DHCP relay agent is the same thing as a BOOTP relay agent, and technically speaking, the latter
phrase is correct.

If a single LAN has more than one subnet number, how can addresses be served on subnets other than the
primary one?

A single LAN might have more than one subnet number applicable to the same set of ports (broadcast
domain). Typically, one subnet is designated as primary, the others as secondary. A site may find it
necessary to support addresses on more than one subnet number associated with a single interface. DHCP's
scheme for handling this is that the server has to be configured with the necessary information and has to
support such configuration & allocation. Here are four cases a server might have to handle:

Dynamic allocation supported on secondary subnet numbers on the LAN to which the server is attached.

Dynamic allocation supported on secondary subnet numbers on a LAN which is handled through a
DHCP/BOOTP Relay. In this case, the DHCP/BOOTP Relay sends the server a gateway address associated
with the primary subnet and the server must know what to do with it.

The other two cases are the same capabilities during manual allocation. It is possible that a particular
server-implementation can handle some of these cases, but not all of them. See section below listing the
capabilities of some servers.

If a physical LAN has more than one logical subnet, how can different groups of clients be allocated
addresses on different subnets?
One way to do this is to preconfigure each client with information about what group it belongs to. A DHCP
feature designed for this is the user class option. To do this, the client software must allow the user class
option to be preconfigured and the server software must support its use to control which pool a client's
address is allocated from.

1. How long should a lease be?

I've asked sites about this and have heard answers ranging from 15 minutes to a year.
Most administrators will say it depends upon your goals, your site's usage patterns, and
service arrangements for your DHCP server.

A very relevant factor is that the client starts trying to renew the lease when it is halfway
through: thus, for example, with a 4 day lease, the client which has lost access to its
DHCP server has 2 days from when it first tries to renew the lease until the lease expires
and the client must stop using the network. During a 2-day outage, new users cannot get
new leases, but no lease will expire for any computer turned on at the time that the outage
commences.

Another factor is that the longer the lease the longer time it takes for client configuration
changes controlled by DHCP to propogate.

Some relevant questions in deciding on a lease time:

Do you have more users than addresses?


If so, you want to keep the lease time short so people don't end up sitting on leases. Naturally,
there are degrees. In this situation, I've heard examples cited of 15 minutes, 2 hours, and 2 days.
Naturally, if you know you will have 20 users using 10 addresses in within a day, a 2 day lease is
not practical.
Are you supporting mobile users?
If so, you may be in the situation of having more users than addresses on some particular IP
number range. See above.
Do you have a typical or minimum amount of time that you are trying to support?
If your typical user is on for an hour at minimum, that suggest a hour lease at minimum.
How many clients do you have and how fast are the communications lines over which the
DHCP packets will be run?
The shorter the lease, the higher the server and network load. In general, a lease of at least 2 hours
is long enough that the load of even thousands of clients is negligible. For shorter leases, there
may be a point beyond which you will want to watch the load. Note that if you have a
communication line down for a long enough time for the leases to expire, you might see an
unusually high load it returns. If the lease-time is at least double the communication line outage,
this is avoided.
How long would it take to bring back up the DHCP server, and to what extent can your
users live without it?
If the lease time is at least double the server outage, then running clients who already have leases
will not lose them. If you have a good idea of your longest likely server outage, you can avoid
such problems. For example, if your server-coverage is likely to recover the server within three
hours at any time that clients are using their addresses, then a six hour lease will handle such an
outage. If you might have a server go down on Friday right after work and may need all Monday's
work-day to fix it, then your maximum outage time is 3 days and a 6-day lease will handle it.
Do you have users who want to tell other users about their IP number?
If your users are setting up their own web servers and telling people how to get to them either by
telling people the IP number or through a permanent DNS entry, then they are looking for an IP
number that won't be changing. While some sites would manually allocate any address that people
expected to remain stable, other sites want to use DHCP's ability to automate distribution of
relatively permanent addresses. The relevant time is the maximum amount of time that you wish to
allow the user to keep their machine turned off yet keep their address. For example, in a university,
if students might have their computers turned off for as long as three weeks between semesters,
and you wish them to keep their IP address, then a lease of six weeks or longer would suffice.

Some examples of lease-times that sites have used & their rationals:

15 minutes
To keep the maximum number of addresses free for distribution in cases where there will be more
users than addresses.
6 hours
Long enough to allow the DHCP server to be fixed, e.g. 3 hours.
12 hours
If you need to take back an address, then you know that it will only take one night for the users'
lease to expire.
3 days
This is apparently Microsoft's default, thus many sites use it.
6 days
Long enough that a weekend server outage that gets fixed on Monday will not result in leases
terminating.
4 months
Long enough that students can keep their IP address over the summer hiatus. I believe this rational
is workable if the summer hiatus is no more than 2 months.
One year
If a user has not used their address in six months, then they are likely to be gone. Allows
administrator to recover those addresses after someone has moved on.