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DHCP vs. BOOTP — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 8, 2024
DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) automatically assigns IP addresses to devices, while BOOTP (Bootstrap Protocol) aids in booting computer systems from a network. Both facilitate IP configurations.
DHCP vs. BOOTP — What's the Difference?

Difference Between DHCP and BOOTP


Key Differences

Origins and Intent: DHCP emerged as an evolution of BOOTP, designed to handle dynamic IP address allocation. Conversely, BOOTP primarily served systems booting over a network, though it also provided static IP address assignments.
Dynamic vs. Static: DHCP is renowned for its dynamic allocation of IP addresses, aiding in efficient IP address management. BOOTP, in contrast, requires manual configuration and typically offers static IP assignments.
Flexibility and Features: DHCP boasts a broader feature set, including lease times for IP addresses, which aids in reclaiming and reallocating addresses as needed. BOOTP lacks such intricate mechanisms, focusing instead on simpler network booting tasks.
Message Format: Although DHCP built upon BOOTP, and thus they share a similar packet structure, DHCP incorporates additional options, enhancing its versatility. BOOTP, being older, has a more basic message format.
Modern Usage: In today's networks, DHCP is predominant due to its adaptability and automated nature. BOOTP, while foundational, is less common but set the stage for DHCP's development.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Dynamic IP address allocation
Network booting & static IP assignment



Address Allocation

Dynamic and static
Mostly static

Packet Structure

Extended options (building on BOOTP structure)

Modern-day Relevance

Predominantly used
Less common, superseded by DHCP in many ways

Compare with Definitions


Automates network settings for devices.
With DHCP, users didn’t need to tinker with their device’s network settings.


Provides static IP address assignments.
BOOTP ensured specific devices always received the same IP address.


Manages IP address allocations in networks.
DHCP streamlined connectivity for the office's multitude of devices.


Lacks dynamic IP assignment mechanisms.
BOOTP requires more manual intervention than its successor, DHCP.


Facilitates IP lease times and renewals.
DHCP allowed the server to reclaim unused IP addresses efficiently.


Primarily aimed at bootstrapping systems.
BOOTP was essential for systems that booted directly from the network.


Offers dynamic IP address management.
DHCP ensures devices receive an IP address upon joining a network.


A protocol aiding in network booting operations.
The IT team used BOOTP to boot diskless workstations.


A protocol for automatic IP address assignment.
The network administrator enabled DHCP to avoid manual IP configurations.


Ancestor to DHCP in IP management.
Before DHCP's widespread adoption, BOOTP was the go-to for network IP configurations.

Common Curiosities

What is BOOTP's primary function?

BOOTP, or Bootstrap Protocol, aids in booting computer systems from a network.

How does DHCP improve upon BOOTP?

DHCP offers automated, dynamic IP address management, whereas BOOTP is more manual and static.

What does DHCP stand for?

DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.

What happens when a DHCP lease expires?

Devices must request a new IP address, or possibly renew the old one if available.

Do DHCP and BOOTP operate over the same transport protocols?

Yes, both DHCP and BOOTP operate over UDP (User Datagram Protocol).

Why was BOOTP developed?

BOOTP was designed to support diskless workstations and systems booting over networks.

Can DHCP offer static IP addresses?

Yes, while DHCP is known for dynamic allocation, it can also assign static IP addresses.

Is BOOTP still widely used today?

BOOTP has largely been superseded by DHCP, though it laid the groundwork for DHCP's development.

How does DHCP handle new devices in a network?

DHCP automatically assigns an available IP address to new devices.

Is BOOTP considered a precursor to DHCP?

Yes, DHCP was designed as an evolution and extension of BOOTP.

In what scenarios might BOOTP be preferred over DHCP?

BOOTP might be preferred in environments where network booting is essential, and dynamic address allocation isn't necessary.

Can DHCP and BOOTP coexist on the same network?

Yes, they can coexist, and DHCP even retains backward compatibility with BOOTP.

How do DHCP and BOOTP contribute to network management?

Both protocols assist in IP configuration, with DHCP offering dynamic management and BOOTP focusing on network booting and static assignments.

Which offers a broader feature set, DHCP or BOOTP?

DHCP offers a broader and more flexible feature set compared to BOOTP.

What's a significant limitation of BOOTP?

BOOTP primarily provides static IP assignments, requiring more manual configuration.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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