System Administration Guide: IP Services

Determining the Number of DHCP Servers

The data store option that you choose has a direct effect on the number of servers you must have to support your DHCP clients. The following table shows the maximum number of DHCP and BOOTP clients that can be supported by one DHCP server for each data store.

Table 12–1 Estimated Maximum Number of Clients Supported by One DHCP Server

Data Store Type 

Maximum Number of Clients Supported 

Text files 




Binary files 


This maximum number is a general guideline, not an absolute number. A DHCP server's client capacity depends greatly on the number of transactions per second that the server must process. Lease times and usage patterns have a significant impact on the transaction rate. For example, suppose leases are set to 12 hours and users turn their systems off at night. If many users turn on their systems at the same time in the morning, the server must handle transaction peaks as many clients request leases simultaneously. The DHCP server can support fewer clients in such an environment. The DHCP server can support more clients in an environment with longer leases, or an environment that consists of constantly connected devices such as cable modems.

The section Choosing the DHCP Data Store compares the types of data stores.