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DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and is often used to configure network devices so that they can communicate with each other. Typically, you have a DHCP server (such as a wireless router) and client machines on the local network (such as a Mac, iPhone, PC, etc.) that get a dynamically assigned local IP address from that server.
This is all well and good and usually works fine, but sometimes you need to renew a DHCP lease, which basically means getting a new IP address and routing information from the DHCP server. This is common trick troubleshooting network problems, and can be useful in troubleshooting Internet connectivity issues when a Wi-Fi connection is determined to be stable, or when a machine on the network cannot access the outside world after turning off a broadband modem or router.
Renew the DHCP lease from OS X system preferences
This is the easiest way to renew a DHCP lease from Mac OS X:
- Open the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
- Click on “Network” and select the currently active network connection from the list on the left, usually there is a green icon next to it and say “Connected”
- Click on “Advanced” button in the lower right corner
- Select the “TCP / IP” tab and then select “Renew DHCP lease” button
- After the IP address, subnet and router have been refilled with new IP information, click “OK” and exit System Preferences
Often times, renewing a DHCP lease means the Mac will stop up with a different local IP address than before, although sometimes you end up up with the same. If the reason you are renewing DHCP is to try to get a new IP address but the router stubbornly keeps assigning the same LAN IP address over and over again, consider setting a static IP address by DHCP configurable with manual addresses.
Another approach, although more advanced, is to refresh DHCP via the command line. This is usually best used by advanced users, but it can also be useful for remote troubleshooting if you can only send SSH to a remote Mac and something like Screen Sharing is not available to you. The other obvious benefit of a command line approach is the ability to use the lease renewal in a script or as part of an automated task within cron.
Renew a DHCP lease from the command line
There are two different ways to renew the DHCP lease from the OS X command line. The first approach uses the always useful ipconfig tool:
sudo ipconfig set en0 DHCP
If you are using ipconfig, make sure you are using the correct interface address, otherwise you may run into other problems or find that nothing changes at all. You can get interface information by using ipconfig to get the current DHCP information as follows:
ipconfig getpacket en1
Run successfully, you will find DHCP server information, client IP, lease time, subnet mask, router IP and DNS servers, the tail of the command should look something like this:
If running that command doesn’t work, you’re looking at the wrong interface. Typically en0 is the default Wi-Fi interface on MacBook Air and newer MacBook Pro models, but often en1 is on Macs with physical Ethernet ports.
The ipconfig method will interrupt the current network connection, while resetting via Network Preferences will not. You can refresh DHCP without interruption from the command line by using the following scutil command from a MacWorld user:
echo “add State: / Network / Interface / en0 / RefreshConfiguration temporary” | sudo scutil
You can check if the changes have taken place by using the aforementioned ipconfig command again:
ipconfig getpacket en0
Again, make sure you are using the correct network interface for your hardware: en1 or en0.
Each method described here works in almost any version of Mac OS X, from the old to the new.
Finally, if you troubleshoot network-wide issues on all devices on a LAN, you can also renew a DHCP lease from iOS and get new local IP addresses on iPhones, iPods and iPads.
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