If you play online games using an Xbox console you have likely seen error messages related to DHCP. A common error message is “Xbox can’t connect to DHCP server”. Although DHCP may sound like something that is not important, DHCP plays a critical role in connecting your Xbox One, Xbox Series X, or Xbox Series S to the internet. Your Xbox needs a valid IP address to access the internet and Xbox Live. DHCP connects your Xbox One, Xbox Series X, or Xbox Series S console to your router by assigning it an IP address.
First things you can try if there error just occurred for the first time. This may fix the problem. Otherwise proceed to the rest of the article to learn more about fixing DHCP errors on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S.
STEP 1: Power off your Xbox console completely by using the power button and then unplugging it.
STEP 2: Unplug the power cable from the back of the router, modem, or gateway and wait for about 30 seconds. There is no need to wait any longer.
STEP 3: After about 30 seconds, plug in the modem and router or gateway and allow it 5 – 10 minutes to full boot up properly. Confirm by looking at the lights on your modem that you are back online.
STEP 4: Test your network connection on your Xbox console.
Open Settings, then select Network.
On the Network Settings screen, choose Test Network connection on the right side of the side of the screen.
If the error goes away and you are connected you are all set. Otherwise keep reading to learn how to fix Xbox DHCP issues.
What is DHCP
DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. It’s a system that automatically communicates with computers that join a network and gives them IP addresses. DHCP also helps to set up computers with other important information needed to talk with other computers on a network and reach out to the internet. This includes network basics like the subnet mask, the default gateway, and DNS information, allowing computers to resolve domain names to IP addresses and make successful connections.
In the context of a network, think of DHCP like the front desk at a hotel. DHCP checks new computers into empty rooms, maintains a database of who’s staying where, and frees up unused rooms when computers leave. DHCP is important in ensuring that nobody gets lost and that nobody tries to check into a room that’s already in use.
Why Is DHCP Used
Computers use IP addresses as a way of routing information on a network. Your Xbox might have an IP address of 192.168.1.104. When your router wants to tell your Xbox that you’re getting shot in a multiplayer game, it’ll send the relevant packets to that address and expect them to reach your Xbox.
Unlike a street of houses, where addresses don’t change very often, your network has to gracefully handle devices entering and exiting the network on a regular basis. You might take your phone with you on a trip, for example, or a friend might bring a phone or laptop over and expect to use your wifi. Importantly, there are a small number of IP addresses available on your network, your network. This means that there needs to be a way to free up old addresses that are assigned to unused devices and give those addresses to new computers that come onto the network.
DHCP is a protocol that’s designed to solve these challenges. allows your router to dynamically assign IP addresses when new devices enter and exit a network. DHCP automatically maintains a table of addresses that are being used, assigns free addresses to new devices, and communicates with devices so that it can reassign those addresses when devices leave the network. It’s a key part of the operation of almost every network in existence.
Why Does DHCP Fail On Xbox
If you’re getting a “can’t connect to your DHCP server” error on your Xbox, it means that your Xbox isn’t successfully getting messages back from whatever runs the DHCP service on your network. On a home network, your router will usually have software that runs a DHCP server. On a business network, you might have a more complicated solution running on an actual server often times a domain controller. In either case, there’s an issue with the communication from your Xbox to the DHCP server and back.
There are a number of potential causes for this. First, your Xbox might be confused about your network settings. If it’s configured to look for a router at the wrong address it won’t find anything, causing all of its attempts to communicate with the network to fail. You might also have an issue with your network where a different device on your network has somehow been assigned the same IP address as your router. If this is the case, your printer or phone or smartwatch won’t know what to do with your Xbox’s DHCP requests and therefore won’t respond.
Another potential cause involves multiple DHCP servers. These days, just about every router you buy will act as a DHCP server when you plug it into your network. If you’ve got more than one router plugged in (maybe you’re using one as a wireless bridge) and you haven’t carefully disabled this functionality you’ll run into all sorts of issues. This might involve multiple devices being assigned the same IP address, some devices being assigned IP addresses from a totally different subnet, your primary DNS server totally disabling itself because it detects a conflict on the network, or a whole slew of other issues.
On the reverse side of that issue, it’s possible that someone disabled DHCP on your router deliberately. A networking expert might turn off DHCP to use a router as a wireless bridge, as part of troubleshooting another issue, or as a temporary way to lock out new devices. This means that your Xbox could very well have nothing to connect with.
Some networks use a device called a “piehole” that prevents certain domain names from being resolved to IP addresses. While these devices are incredibly useful, they also add complexity to the network. In some cases, this can break DHCP. In other cases, these devices can be misconfigured and might block some types of communication, resulting in failed connections.
Finally, it’s possible that the packets your DHCP service is sending back to your Xbox simply aren’t arriving. This might be the result of a poor WiFi signal, a bad cable, or a loose plug. If you’re able to fix the issue by brute-forcing it and trying to connect to the internet several times only to have a terrible connection, this is likely the culprit of your DHCP issues.
How to Fix DHCP Server Errors On Xbox
If you’re getting an error message related to your DHCP server on your Xbox One, Xbox Series X, or Xbox Series S, here’s a list of fixes you can try to solve the problem.
First, plug and unplug both your router and your Xbox. Remove both the power cables and the ethernet cords, wait a few seconds, then plug them back in. This serves two important functions. First, it verifies that your devices are plugged in all the way and that the correct cables are in the correct places. It also power cycles the devices, which often solves basic technical issues with no additional steps. Once you’ve done this, try connecting your Xbox to the internet again. There’s a decent chance that this will fix your problem immediately.
Next, ask around your house and see if anyone has been messing around with the configuration on either your router or your Xbox. You’ll sometimes find that someone changed DHCP settings for a personal project or that someone who didn’t know what they were doing was playing with your Xbox’s connection settings. If this is the case, you’ve likely found the cause of your problem. Simply go to the configuration page and reset everything to default or keep reading and follow the steps to optimize your new settings.
In some cases, your DHCP problems are caused by an extra router or other device being added to your network. Think about any new additions to your home network and ask if anyone’s purchased a new wireless bridge, repeater, or another fancy bit of tech. If one of these has been added recently, try unplugging it and then connect your Xbox to the internet. If the connection works, you’ll need to reconfigure your router or your new device to allow your Xbox to properly communicate with your DHCP service.
If none of these things work, the next thing to do is to start to look at various settings yourself. First, you’ll want to get some basic information about your network. On a computer that successfully connects to the internet, hit Windows + R to bring up the “run” prompt. Type “cmd” and hit enter to open a command prompt, then type “ipconfig” to run a basic network tool that will give you a bunch of useful numbers. You’re looking for the subnet mask and default gateway here. If these numbers aren’t 255.255.255.0 and 192.168.1.1 respectively, write them down.
From here, you’ll want to configure DHCP on your router. Here’s a quick rundown on how to do just that.
How to Configure DHCP On Your Router
Your router’s configuration dashboard can be accessed from within your network using a normal web browser as if it was a web page. The only caveat here is that you’ll have to type its IP address directly into the address bar. If you were able to get a default gateway earlier, you should use that address to access your router’s configuration page. If you’re not sure, it’s probably 192.168.1.1.
If that doesn’t work and you can’t open a command prompt to check network basics with ipconfig, check the bottom of your router for a sticker with information or talk to the person who configured your network.
Once you’re at the configuration page you’ll find a login portal that asks you for a username and password. If someone has configured your router, these details may have been changed. Talk to that person and try to get the information from them. If they won’t or can’t share, you’ll need to factory reset your router to restore the default password.
To do this, leave your router plugged in and use a paper clip or a thin pen to hold down the little recessed button on the back of your router for about 20 seconds. Doing this will get rid of any custom settings on your router and change your WiFi password, but it’ll also often fix your DHCP issues without any additional changes. If you do perform a factory reset, try turning on your Xbox and see if things have been fixed.
The default information for your router will vary based on manufacturer and router type. Many routers have a sticker somewhere on them with the default information. If you can’t find one of these, try using your favorite search engine to look for the default login for your router. As long as your router has factory default settings you’ll be able to get into the configuration panel with this information.
Different routers will have different configuration pages. Look for a tab called “setup,” “network configuration,” or something similar and browse around until you find a set of settings for your DHCP server. Take a look at the settings and see if anything looks unusual. If you’re lucky, the “enabled” button will be unticked for some reason and you’ll be able to simply check it to fix DHCP on your network.
If DHCP is already enabled (and it probably is), you’ll want to carefully skim through your settings. Make sure that the start address ends in a number that’s higher than 1 (set it to 50 or 100 if you’re not sure) and that the maximum number of users is appropriate for your network. The client lease time should correlate to how often devices enter and leave your network. If you don’t have guests, a 10080-minute lease time might be appropriate, but if you throw big parties on the weekend and give your WiFi information to people who attend you’ll probably want something closer to 1440 minutes or less. Keep in mind that some routers will require this to be entered in seconds rather than minutes. Simply multiple minutes times 60 to get seconds.
Once this is done, write down the starting address and click “save” or “apply” to save your settings, then move on to the next step.
How To Setup DHCP Scopes
A DHCP scope is the range of addresses that your DHCP server manages. When a new device joins your network, your DHCP server will pull the first available address from this range and give it to that device. If the scope has too few addresses you’ll run into problems when lots of devices join your network. If it has too many, you’ll have trouble manually assigning IP addresses to key network devices.
On a standard home network, the last 3 digits of the IP address is the only thing that changes from device to device. The first number, 0, is the network ID and cannot be assigned. The last number, 255, is used for packets that are sent out to all computers on a network (broadcast traffic) and likewise cannot be assigned. That means that there are a total of 253 useable IP addresses in the 255.255.255.0 subnet mask.
In most cases, you’ll want to leave plenty of space for static addresses so your DHCP server doesn’t cause problems with routers, printers, servers, and game consoles that are having difficulty using DHCP normally. This means that you don’t want your scope to go all the way from 1 to 254.
Instead, you’ll want to leave a big buffer that leaves plenty of room for you to assign manual IP addresses to network devices. Starting at 50 or 100 should give you lots of room for this while also giving you the capacity to handle hundreds of separate devices on your network.
To set up the scope of your DHCP server, log into your router as outlined above, navigate to the DHCP configuration page, and modify the “start IP address” and “maximum number of devices” fields to change the pool that your DHCP server draws from. Make sure that your start address is at least 20 and that your maximum number of devices is less than 254 minus your start address.
It’s often a good idea to leave a bit of room at both ends. A starting address of 50 and a maximum number of devices of 200 will give you plenty of wiggle room for most home networks. On some configuration pages, you might see “start address” and “end address” instead. In this case, you don’t have to do as much math. Just makes sure that the starting number is between 20 and 100 and that the end number is less than 254.
H0w to Setup DHCP Lease Length
When your router’s DHCP service hands out an IP address, it gives it out for a set amount of time, known as the “lease length.” If it doesn’t hear back from the device within that set amount of time, it will assume that the device at that address has left the network and return the address to the pool, allowing it to be assigned again.
In order to configure your lease length, visit your router’s DHCP configuration page as outlined above. You should find a field on the page that allows you to modify this number to better suit your network.
In general, longer lease lengths are better for network stability, while shorter lease lengths are necessary to free up addresses on networks that see devices come and go frequently. A lease length of a week is totally fine for a network that doesn’t see a lot of new devices. If you have guests frequently, you might want to opt for a lease length of a day. Going below 12 hours is likely unnecessary for home networks unless there’s something odd going on and should probably be avoided to reduce unnecessary traffic on your network. Below 8 hours and you’ll create a situation where taking your phone to work will force your DHCP server to free up that phone’s IP address and then reassign your phone a new address to the phone when you return. This can cause some subtle networking problems and should probably be avoided.
Alternatives To Using DHCP
DHCP is useful for devices that enter and exit your network. If you’re not planning on taking your Xbox to another network in the near future, you can give it a static IP address to avoid DHCP entirely. This will fix any DHCP issues you’re experiencing, but it means you’ll have to get a lot of information about your network and your DHCP server to avoid creating problems. You’ll need to know your DHCP scope and you’ll need to figure out a free, unused IP address outside of that scope.
To figure out your scope, check the section on DHCP scopes above.
Once you’ve identified which IP addresses lie outside of your DHCP scope, you’ll want to see which addresses are free. Look around in your router’s config panel for a section called “assigned IP addresses” or something similar. This page is essentially a set of notes for network administrators to document which addresses they have assigned to a device manually. It’s not foolproof, since people can forget to use it, but it’s a good way to see that an address is already occupied.
To proceed, pick an IP address that’s not in your DHCP scope and hasn’t already been assigned to a network device. If you’ve set up your scope to start at 50, try something like 192.168.1.48. Open a command prompt (on a windows computer ctrl+r, type “cmd” and hit enter) and type “ping” followed by a space and the address you chose, then hit enter. If you don’t get a response, the address is likely currently unused. Write down this address in your router’s “assigned IP addresses” page and note that it’s being assigned to your Xbox.
From your Xbox, go to the home menu, then select settings. Go to network -> advanced settings -> IP settings -> manual. Put in the address you chose as the IP address and put in the subnet mask and default gateway that you wrote down earlier, (if you can’t remember these, run “ipconfig” from the command prompt on a computer to get these values. Your subnet mask is usually 255.255.255.0 and your default gateway is usually 192.168.1.1). Return to advanced settings, hit save, and then test your connection. If you did everything right, you should fully bypass the DHCP process and connect to the internet!
Setting a static IP address is not without its downsides. First, if you ever take your Xbox to another network, you’ll need to remember that you’ve altered these settings. Different networks might use different subnets or have devices on the address you picked out for your Xbox. You’ll probably have to revert these configuration changes and use DHCP in order to connect to your new network.
Second, it’s important to ensure that your Xbox has a unique IP address that isn’t shared with other devices. The steps above will minimize the chances of a network misconfiguration. They won’t eliminate the possibility altogether. It’s possible that a family member or guest has a device that they’ve configured to use the same static IP that you assigned to your Xbox. Alternately, someone might change your DHCP scope at some point in the future and expand the range so it includes your assigned address. Should one of these issues occur, your Xbox will experience a whole slew of network issues while it’s sharing its IP address with another device. You’ll want to carefully run through the steps above to find a new, free address and assign that address to your Xbox in order to solve these issues.
DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. It’s a system that automatically communicates with computers that join a network and gives them IP addresses, subnet masks, default gateways, and DNS servers. DHCP can run on router, layer 3 network switch, dedicated server, or on many other devices. Most home networks run DHCP on the router.
If you are getting an Xbox can’t connect to DHCP server error, the router is where you are generally going to fix the problem. If you want to avoid DHCP altogether, using a Static IP address on your Xbox console is another option. Although I highly recommend using DHCP as it makes life much easier and less complicated.