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Windows Home Server running local DNS and DHCP

Many modern routers already have a reasonable DHCP server and DNS forwarding out of the box. And a local network can work quite well with just that, as long as all local computers mainly want to connect to external sites on the web. Even when Windows-based client computers want to access a local WHS (Windows Home Server), the router's DHCP together with the WINS no-configuration, this works well. But once the local network also hosts non-Windows computers and devices (think: Linux computers, network-capable devices like printers, X10 controllers etc.), connecting to local network endpoints becomes tedious, as in most cases, those computers cannot be found by name but instead by their IP address. Hence the desire to have a full-fledged local DNS that has its names updated dynamically with the DHCP address leases.


These steps assume some familiarity with Windows configuration and command prompts.

WARNING: the following steps will require to make some changes on the WHS system configuration. There is a small but real chance that your WHS can get messed up, potentially requiring you to do a factory reset and reinstall of your WHS system.

  • ideally do the configuration from a Windows computer with a wired connection to both the router and your WHS computer; it's possible to do this also via a wireless connection but it's harder to recover in case the router gets misconfigured
  • Connect to your router via its web UI and get the following data:
    • make sure the router has a static IP address, e.g.
    • go to its status or network page and take note of the ISP's DNS address(es). In my case (Frontier), those are: and
  • connect to your WHS, using its regular admin console. Click on Settings to open the “WHS Settings” dialog. Scroll and click to the IP configuration and make sure you have a static IP address for the server (click on “Advanced and check field “DHCP enabled” = false).
  • Change to Static IP address: click on the IP configuration button
    • assign your WHS an IP address, e.g.
    • mask for the above IP addr:
    • for the default gateway, assign your router's IP address, here:
  • on your local Windows computer, open the network adapter's Local Area Connection Status page. From its Status page, take note of the current IP address (since it's assigned by the router's DHCP, it's not colliding), e.g.
  • now change your client computer's IP address to static. That way you'll be able to connect to the internet to Bing any questions…
    • open your network's adapter “Local Area Connection Properties” dialog,
    • select “Internet Protocol Version 4” and click “Properties.
    • under the “General” tab, switch to “Use the following IP address” and enter:
      • the PC's current IP address, here:
      • hit Tab and accept the default “Subnet mask”
      • enter your router's IP address under “Default gateway”
    • For DNS, set either your ISP's DNS address or (a public DNS server run by Google)
  • open a command prompt and try:
  ping <IP address of your router>
  ping <IP address of your WHS>

All 3 ping attempts should resolve and list replies from each system. Do not proceed until you have this all working.

Prepare WHS

  • connect to your router's admin web UI and disable DHCP Server on it. You will likely have to reboot your router to ensure its DHCP server is stopped. The WHS DHCP server we're about to configure will refuse to start if it encounters the router's DHCP on the network.
  • disconnect your WHS console and connect to your WHS server via Remote Desktop. From the command line:
  mstsc /v:<IP address of your WHS>
  • login as user “Administrator” and your regular WHS console password. You will see a fullscreen warning screen in a browser. Close the browser window but take this warning screen serious and consider and check the following steps carefully.
  • on the WHS's start menu, click “Control Panel”, “Add or Remove Programs”
  • click on “Add/Remove Windows Components”
  • scroll to and select “Network Services”
  • click on button “Details…”
  • select and check the following line: “DNS” and “DHCP”, click OK, then “Next” on the Component Wizard and let the configuration finish.

Configure DHCP

  • open the DHCP control panel: Start | “Control Panel” | “Administrative Tools” | DHCP
  • the DHCP panel opens with an empty view
  • right click on the “DHCP” node on the left, click “Add Server…”
  • enter your WHS computer's name and click Ok.
  • this creates a new child node under “DHCP” with your WHS computer's name and IP address
  • select and right-click the WHS node, select “All Tasks”, then “Start”
  • select and right-click the WHS node again, select “New Scope…” to get to the scope wizard
  • Scope Name and description: enter a name, e.g. “My local domain”
  • Address Range: e.g. -; mask
  • Add Exclusions: optional if you need to keep e.g. static addresses exempt from the above range
  • Lease Duration: for my home network, I use 16hrs
  • Configure DHCP Options: Yes, I want to configure these options now
    • Router (Default Gateway): Enter your router's IP address, here:
  • Domain Name and DNS Server:
    • Parent domain: e.g. <LastName>.local
    • Server name: enter the WHS computer's name and click resolve (or type in the WHS's IP address), click Add
  • WINS server:
    • Server name: enter the WHS computer's name and click resolve (or type in the WHS's IP address), click Add
  • Activate the scope: select “yes”

Arrange for DHCP leases to be added to DNS

  • select and right-click the WHS node again, click “Properties”
  • select tab “DNS
    • check “Enable dynamic DNS updates
    • select option “Always dynamically update DNS A and PTR records”
    • check “Discard A and PTR records when lease is deleted”
    • check “Dynamically update A and PTR records for DHCP clients that do not request updates”
    • click “Ok”

Configure DNS

  • open the DNS control panel: Start | “Control Panel” | “Administrative Tools” | DNS
  • the DNS panel opens with an unconfigured view
  • right click on the node with your WHS server name , click “Configure a DNS Server…”
  • Select Configuration Action: select “Create a forward lookup zone”
  • Primary Server Location: choose the option: “This server maintains the zone”
  • Zone name: use the parent domain entered in DHCP, e.g. <LastName>.local
  • Zone file: choose “Create a new file” and accept default name
  • Dynamic Update: Choose “Allow both nonsecure and secure dynamic updates”
  • Forwarders: Choose “Yes, it should forward …” and enter your ISP's DNS server IP addresses or a public DNS service, e.g. and (Google's public DNS)
  • click Finish


By default, WHS will block the DHCP and DNS port with its firewall. To open the necessary ports:

  • Start | “Control Panel” | “Windows Firewall”
  • select tab ” Exceptions” and add the following four entries with “Add Port…”:
Name Port# Protocol Scope
DHCP 67 UDP Any computer
DHCP 2535 UDP Any computer
DNS UDP 53 UDP My network
DNS TCP 53 TCP My network
whs_with_dns_and_dhcp.txt · Last modified: 2014/11/01 14:14 (external edit)