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What Does Renew Lease on WiFi Mean? (And HOW to Renew!)

Every device on a WiFi network gets assigned a unique IP address by the router. But that IP address assignment is only “leased” out for a specified amount of time. After that time runs out, your device has to renew its lease.

Renew lease on WiFi means your device needs to request a new IP address from the router because the one it was previously assigned is no longer available. Tap the “Renew Lease” button in the WiFi information menu, or toggle the WiFi off and back on again to renew the lease. 

What is a WiFi lease? 

A WiFi lease (also called a DHCP lease) is a way for a router to manage devices that are connected to the network. When a device connects to the router, the router assigns it a local IP address using a service called DHCP.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a client/server protocol that automatically provides an Internet Protocol (IP) host with its IP address.

The router will use a device’s MAC Address to first identify it on the network, and then it will assign it the same IP address the next time it connects. 

You can think of the MAC address as a Vehicle Identification Number (VINs), which is unique to each car. IP addresses are more like license plates, which can be reassigned or transferred to different cars.

The IP address will be reserved for the amount of time the DHCP lease period has been set to, in most cases 24 hours. (The router admin can manually set a DHCP lease time and a DHCP IP range, details on how to do this below).

If the device does not reconnect after the specified lease time, that IP address will become available for other devices to connect to.

Problems can occur when you connect to a public network that has a short DHCP lease time and only a few available IP address slots. For example, airports or coffee shops often have many people connected to the same network. 

If you connected to a WiFi network once before, but now you’re receiving a “Renew Lease on WiFi” message, it means the IP address that was reserved for you is now in use by someone else.

To fix that issue you can either turn off WiFi on your device and then reconnect, or tap the “Renew Lease” button in the network settings on your phone. 

renew WiFi lease on iphone

In the majority of cases, your device should automatically request an IP address from the router, and all of these actions will take place behind the scenes without you even knowing.

Change local network IP address

Most of the time, tapping the renew lease button will provide you with a new IP address.

But, sometimes your router can automatically reassign your device to the same IP address, which defeats the purpose.

To force your router to change IP addresses, you can:

  1. “Forget the Network” or your device and reconnect OR
  2. Shut down the router for 30 seconds and then turn it back on. This will reset all the settings and assign new IP addresses. 

If you’re still having issues, you likely assigned your device a static IP address.

Static IP address 

If you’re in charge of the router you’re connecting to, you might have set your devices to use a static IP (knowingly, or unknowingly), instead of setting an automatic IP assignment.

It’s also possible you accidentally configured two devices to use the same IP address. When this happens, you will likely receive a WiFi lease expired warning, and neither device will connect to the internet. On Windows, you will see an “IP Address Conflict” warning next to your network adapter. 

To resolve this, make sure the network card is using automatic DHCP instead of static, or you could try manually entering a different IP address. 

That said, setting a static IP address is useful when it is critical that a data connection is not interrupted

How to set a static IP address

Setting a static IP address is helpful for people on computers who need to forward specific IP addresses for hosting services and other network features. A real world example of this would be network print servers.

It also helps make it easier to share files using file share apps because you can remember which IP each of your devices is using on the network. Not to mention VPNs usually require static network settings. 

Windows 10

On Windows 10 right-click your network adapter icon in the bottom right tray and select “Open Network and Internet Settings”.

Click on “Properties” under your network information and then take note of the information. Click on Edit and choose Manual and then toggle IPv4

set static IP address on Windows 10

Next, you will need to fill out the information. You can use the same IP address as before, and the gateway is the router’s admin page, it’s usually the first IPv4 DNS Server IP address.

If you’re not sure, the router should have the information printed on the rear side. The subnet mask is usually 255.255.255.0. 

You will also need to enter a DNS server, which could be any DNS, but it’s recommended to use a well-known one, or stick to the default from your ISP.

When you change the IP assignment setting the network connection will reset. If the configuration is correct, you will be able to use the internet as usual and your IP address will remain the same until you change it. 

On iPhone 

Open your Settings and tap on the WiFi menu.

Tap the information icon next to the WiFi network. From there, select Configure IP and select Manual from the list.

You will need to enter the same information as above. Tap on Save and then select Configure DNS and choose Manual.

Enter your preferred DNS server, save the settings, and connect to the network. If the settings are correct, no warnings will appear and you can connect to the internet. 

On Android

Open Settings, Connections, and WiFi.

Tap on your currently connected WiFi and swipe down until you see an “Advanced” button. Under IP settings change DHCP to Manual and fill in all the relevant information.

The good news is Android will save the previous settings so you don’t need to manually fill in every field. Tap on Save and see if it works. 

Setting DHCP lease time as a network admin

If you’re the admin of a network, you can easily manually configure the DHCP lease time. It’s usually a good idea to add some restrictions to the DHCP. This way you limit the number of devices that can connect. You can also reserve specific IPs for your devices. 

For starters, enter the router’s configuration page. The address will vary depending on the router’s model, but you can usually find a sticker on the back of the router with the information.

If you never changed the router’s login details, they’ll be the default username and password which is also printed on the router. 

The exact menu options will vary depending on your router. In most cases, the DHCP settings are found under WAN/LAN options.

You’ll see DHCP is enabled and you can choose a Lease Time as well as an IP range. If your router is public, I recommend using a short lease time such as 1 or 2 hours. If it’s a private network, you can put the maximum lease time or just leave it on default. 

Note: Lease times are often set in seconds. So for example, a Lease Time of 3600 would be 1 hour.

DHCP lease time

The DHCP range is the range of IP addresses that are available to the router to assign. In most cases, the default is 10 – 199, but you can increase or decrease it, depending on your needs. The default settings are usually good enough. 

If you want to limit access to a certain number of devices, you can decrease the range from 10 – 50 or something similar. Limiting the connections can help prevent devices from eating up the bandwidth and slowing down the connection for everyone. 

You’ll likely see a feature called Reserved IP here as well. It will tell the router to assign a specific IP to the MAC address on the list.

It’s another way to add a static IP to your devices. You will need to find the MAC address of the device you wish to add. You can sometimes find the MAC address of all connected devices from inside the router’s page, along with their network name. 

Conclusion

Devices on a WiFi network get assigned a unique IP address by the router. But that IP address assignment is only “leased” out for a specified amount of time.

This is usually only an issue when you’re connected to a public network. Due to the shear number of connections they have to accommodate, public WiFi networks have shorter DHCP lease times. This helps limit access.

If your device’s WiFi lease has run out, its time to renew it and get a new IP address. To renew:

  • Tap the “Renew Lease” button under your WiFi network on your phone OR
  • Turn your device’s WiFi off and then back on. This should automatically reset the lease. 

If it’s critical that the data connection with your device is not interrupted and you’re an admin on the network, you should consider setting a static IP address. Just make sure the IP address you configure doesn’t conflict with any other devices on your network.

Otherwise, set DHCP to “automatic” under IP settings to automate IP address assignments.