Cisco IP Helper Address Complications

In this video, Tony Fortunato shows how using the ip helper address command can overwhelm a DHCP server and cause network performance issues.

Tony Fortunato

November 23, 2015

1 Min Read
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Network technicians have used the Cisco ip helper-address command to provide a way for DHCP broadcast packets to traverse routers. Other vendors use dhcp-proxy, dhcp-relay and other similar solutions, but the big difference is that ip-helper forwards bootp/dhcp broadcasts as well as other protocols such as time, NetBIOS, ND, and DNS.

In this video, I demonstrate a common configuration problem I run into with the ip helper-address command. 

I caution my clients to be careful when using ip helper commands since you might overwhelm your DHCP server with other protocols to the point where it cannot reliably respond to DHCP requests.

In the video, I also discuss how I use the IP identifier to correlate multiple trace files and how you can refer to the ICMP payload to see the originating packet that caused the ICMP error.

Just a note of caution: In certain cases, you might not see the ICMP Destination Unreachable packets if ICMP is filtered out by routers or firewalls, or if you have a firewall enabled on the capturing device.

If you find that ip-helper address configuration commands are causing you issues, look into alternative commands like ip forward-protocol udp or other configurations that use dhcp relay commands.

About the Author(s)

Tony Fortunato

Sr Network Performance Specialist

Tony Fortunato is a network performance expert who has been designing, implementing and troubleshooting networks since 1989. His company, The Technology Firm, provides clients of all sizes with services ranging from project management, network design, consulting, troubleshooting, designing custom-designed training courses, and assisting with equipment installation. Tony's experience in networking started with financial trading floor networks and ISPs, where he learned to integrate and support equipment from various vendors. Tony has taught and presented at numerous colleges and universities, public forums and private classes. He blogs frequently at NetworkDataPediaand has a popular YouTube channel.

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