What is an IP Address Conflict & How to Resolve it?

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Jaspreet Kaur
Jaspreet has done Master in Technology Science (Research) from IIT Delhi. Her area of expertise is in masters thesis on neuroimaging tools and their application in the study of addiction. She enjoys reading and teaching.

The IP address is used as an identification and no two devices should have the same IP address. However, sometimes, multiple devices erroneously get assigned the same IP address which leads to an IP address conflict. The device in question could be your personal computer, mobile phone, or a network adapter.

Presence of an IP conflict between two devices prevents either one or both of the devices from accessing the Internet or perform any other network communication.

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Although IP address conflicts do not occur very commonly, they still cause a lot of inconvenience to the users and are worth addressing.

The possible reason behind an IP address conflict

An IP address conflict can occur due to a human error or a malfunction of DHCP server. DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.

It is a network protocol that allows a server to assign an IP address to a computer automatically from a defined range of numbers. This range is configured for a given network and thus can vary across networks.

Here are some of the reasons your IP address might be clashing with another host on the network.

Multiple devices are assigned the same static IP

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An IP address can be assigned in two ways. One way is manually assigning an IP address to each host in a local area network. The other method is when an IP address is assigned automatically by a DHCP server when you connect to the network.

The system administrator might assign the same IP address to multiple devices in the network. This would cause an IP conflict.

A malfunction in DHCP server

Sometimes, when a mobile device is put in hibernate node after being assigned an IP address, it tends to use the same IP address once awakened.

However, it may happen that the IP address was automatically assigned to a different computer by the network’s DHCP server. This would cause an IP conflict.

Assigning static IP in the range of DHCP’s range

If a system administrator assigns a static IP to a computer which is in the range of the local network’s DHCP, the same address might be assigned by the DHCP automatically to another computer. This could cause an IP address conflict.

IP conflict with itself

In addition to the scenarios mentioned above, a computer can face an IP conflict with itself. This scenario can arise if a computer is configured with more than one network adapters. This way, one IP address is assigned to multiple adapters causing a conflict.

Other forms of IP conflict

There are some different scenarios where an IP conflict can occur. For example, a network administrator may accidentally connect two ports of a network switch to each other.

This way, when an attempt to communicate is made, both the sender and receiver will have the IP address, causing a conflict. The same case will arise if two ports of a network router are connected to each other.

IP conflict error

If there is an IP conflict on your network, you will receive an error while trying to connect to the network. The type of error depends on the operating system you are using.

If you are using a Microsoft Windows operating system and trying to assign a static IP to your PC that is already assigned on the network, you will get an error stating that the IP is already configured.

Resolving IP Address Conflicts

If you have encountered a case of an IP conflict, troubleshoot by trying the following:

  1. If you have static IP assigned to each host in the local network, make sure that IP address for each host is unique.
  2. If there is a conflict in IP when using DHCP, renew your IP address. If you are using Windows, open a new command prompt and type ipconfig /renew to renew your IP address. This should resolve any problem you are facing.
  3. Your router may have a faulty DHCP server. To resolve the conflicts, perform an upgrade to your router’s firmware.
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