The DHCP Server service is a cluster-aware application. You can implement additional DHCP (or MADCAP) server reliability by deploying a DHCP server cluster using the Cluster service.

By using clustering support for DHCP, you can implement a local method of DHCP server failover, achieving greater fault tolerance. You can also enhance fault tolerance by combining DHCP server clustering with a remote failover configuration, such as by using a split scope configuration.

Requirements for setting up a DHCP clustered resource

The DHCP Server service, when used in a server cluster, requires the following resource types:

  • Disk

  • IP address

  • Name

In this type of configuration, a virtual IP address is defined for the IP address resource using the Cluster Administrator tool. This address must be a static IP address, not one obtained from another DHCP server.

The DHCP Server service then binds to this virtual IP address. This IP address must then be used to authorize the DHCP Server service in Active Directory so it can function correctly and service clients on the network.

Once the virtual IP is set using cluster configuration, each network adapter installed on each node (that is, a server in the cluster) needs an IP address configuration. Because the DHCP Server service does not bind to adapter IP addresses, you can either provide them through DHCP or configure them statically. If you use static configuration, the IP addresses for each linked pair of network adapters (linked node-to-node) should be from the same subnet.

Addresses that are statically configured using TCP/IP properties from Network Center can also be viewed through server bindings properties in the DHCP console. However, for a DHCP server cluster, the bindings information that appears in these views does not correspond to the virtual IP address used for the server cluster. Therefore, these settings do not apply.

When a scope is created for a DHCP clustered server, the virtual IP addresses used in the cluster context must be excluded so that they are not distributed to clients. Additionally, you should configure the database path, audit log file path, and the database backup path using the Cluster Administrator tool on the shared disk.


The Jet database upon which the DHCP Server service relies is not cluster aware. If the clustered DHCP database becomes inaccessible to the DHCP Server service, the service will report thousands of ESENT application log errors, and DHCP service by the cluster will be interrupted.


   If you need only to remotely manage DHCP server clusters that are deployed on remote computers, you can use Cluster Administrator to do this.

Additional Resources

For a list of Help topics providing related information, see Recommended tasks for the DHCP server role.

For updated detailed IT pro information about DHCP, see the Windows Server 2008 documentation on the Microsoft TechNet Web site.