IP Address Conflicts – Definition, Guide + Recommended Tool

By Staff Contributor on May 22, 2023

Having an IP conflict in your network can result in various problems, and IP conflict detection is often as difficult and time consuming as the troubleshooting process itself. If you’re wondering how to fix IP conflicts, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll discuss ways you can detect, resolve, and avoid IP conflict in your network.

To best solve IP address conflicts, I recommend investing in IP conflict detection software. IP conflict detection tools are designed to help you find IP conflicts and assess how to solve IP conflicts quickly. An IP conflict scanner can help you avoid and identify IP conflicts, and most IP conflict software is also designed to improve network reliability. On top of this, many IP conflict tools enable you to manage your IP addresses, disable problematic devices, and catch problems right away using customizable alerts and alarms.This article discusses IP addresses and IP address conflicts and goes through some ways you can use IP conflict finders to fix IP address conflicts.

I recommend using the SolarWinds® IP Control Bundle (IPCB), which includes the capabilities of both IP Address Manager (IPAM) and User Device Tracker (UDT). With this bundle, you can take immediate action to resolve IP address conflict and dive deep into details of specific issues. IPCB is also designed to organize your IP addresses and identify affected subsets, helping you manage your IP environment to better understand how to troubleshoot IP conflicts. A 30-day free trial of the SolarWinds IP Control Bundle is available for download.

SolarWinds IP Control Bundle

© 2021 SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. All rights reserved.

What Is an IP Address Conflict?

An IP conflict occurs when two or more devices in the same network share an IP address. This clash causes one or both devices to stop communicating with the rest of the network, which could lead to a slew of problems. Figuring out how to find IP conflicts, as well as how to fix an IP conflict when it occurs, is crucial to the health of your network and its devices.

What Is an IP Address?

An IP (“internet protocol”) address is the identification number given to a specific device in a network such as a computer, cell phone, router, switch, etc. This code allows devices to communicate across your network, which helps information flow properly. A device’s IP address is made up of 32 numbers joined together by periods and must be unique within its network to function.

You can think of an IP address as a device’s ZIP code within a network. An IP address helps your network’s devices send and receive data swiftly, and accurately. But, if there’s more than one IP address in use, there can be problems getting the right data to the right places.

Almost every device on a given network has a public IP address and a private IP address. As the names suggest, a public IP address links you to the outside world while a private IP address handles local activities on your network. Besides private and public, there are two main categories of IP addresses.

Dynamic IP addresses automatically change over time, are easiest for an ISP server to process, and are usually generated using DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). Static IP addresses stay the same over time, are easiest for identification management, and are usually assigned manually.

Most personal home IP addresses are generated using a DHCP server and are therefore dynamic. However, when it comes to the vast networks of businesses and organizations, IP addresses can be both dynamic and static. Unfortunately, it’s easy to accidentally cause a duplicate IP address if you’re generating IP addresses manually along with using a DHCP. It’s also easy to have duplicate IP addresses when using more than one DHCP server—which is exactly why you should never do this.

How to Detect an IP Address Conflict on Networks

Usually, your network operating software will notify you when it encounters an IP address conflict. Depending on the operating system, this could come in the form of an error message—such as a balloon, pop-up, or notification—letting you know there’s a duplicate IP address present in the network. When your system finds an IP conflict, the network interface on both ends becomes disabled. This shuts down each device with an affected IP address, disabling functions until the IP address conflict is resolved.

Sometimes, your network won’t detect the IP conflict and there will be no notification, causing the problem to go unnoticed. When this happens, you’ll see valid IP addresses on your network, but the connectivity simply won’t work or will be intermittent. You might also receive vague “network unavailable” error messages, not alerting you to the true cause of the problem.

You may have heard IP address conflicts will amend themselves. But leaving an IP address conflict untouched could lead to further complications across your network. And when an IP address conflict does work itself out, it usually takes a fair amount of time and causes even more problems to manifest under the surface. It’s best to search for IP conflict solutions immediately after an issue arises.

There are a few ways an IP address conflict can occur, some of which I’ve outlined below:

  • DHCP Errors

Natural errors can occur in your DHCP server, causing DHCP to use the same IP address for multiple devices. Sometimes, DHCP gives a new device a dynamic IP address already in use as a static IP address. DHCP can also lose track of the IP address numbers it has generated.

One proactive way to avoid a DHCP IP address conflict is to define a DHCP scope. A DHCP scope gives DHCP a pool of IP addresses to choose from, so you can reduce the chances of DHCP generating duplicate IP addresses. Most, though not all DHCP servers, will allow for this.

  • Repeat Static IP Errors

Sometimes an administrator accidentally creates two of the same static IP addresses. It’s okay, everybody makes mistakes—it can easily be amended by re-assigning a unique static IP address to each affected device.

  • Standby Mode Errors

An IP address conflict can occur after a device “wakes up” from not being in use for a while. During this device’s hibernated state its IP address may have been recalled and assigned to another device, so when the first device wakes up, it believes it can use the same IP address.

  • A IP Address

An IP address containing only zeros is a common problematic IP address. This means your device can see the network, but something is interfering with its ability to receive a proper IP address. There are a few ways to potentially fix this issue—temporarily disable the device’s firewall, reconfigure the connected DHCP server and ensure it’s enabled, and double-check your network adaptor is installed correctly.

6 Ways to Avoid IP Conflict in Networks

There is no catch-all IP address conflict fix. Especially for complicated networks with lots of remote network devices, which are harder to identify using a ping or arp utility, you’ll have to approach each IP address conflict uniquely.

The best way to avoid an IP address conflict in your network is to use IP conflict software, which can help detect and solve many forms of IP address conflicts. An IP conflict scanner is designed to find IP conflicts and enable you to keep track of all your IP addresses from your core devices. Not only will this save you time and resources but will also help you organize your network’s IP addresses to avoid future IP address conflicts.

Here are some features an IP conflict finder can help you achieve.

1. Continually Monitor IP Address Allocation

By keeping track of which IP address is in use on which device, your IP conflict tool is designed to help avoid IP conflicts in your network.

2. Keep a Real-Time Inventory of IP Addresses

Continually keeping track of active IP addresses helps prevent you from reassigning IP addresses already in use. Many IP conflict detection programs will create and constantly update an inventory of used IP addresses to further avoid the chance of reassignment.

3. Get a Coherent View of Your Network

Dive deep into details of your IP addresses in use and from the past, including specifics like subnets, hostnames, and associated devices, plus view past and present statuses and alerts.

4. Detect Abnormal Behavior

Besides administering IP address conflict solutions, IP conflict software can help pick up on other unexplained activity that could be dangerous or problematic for your network.

5. Reduce Admin Time

Having your IP addresses managed and monitored for you frees up your schedule and your brainpower, letting you focus on what’s really important.

6. Directly Edit Your IP Settings

You can access the settings for all your IP addresses in an instant, enabling you to fix IP conflicts as you view your IP addresses and their corresponding devices.

Running a network by homestyle spreadsheets and solutions can prove difficult, confusing, and time-consuming. An IP conflict tool will help you manage, discover, and solve IP address conflicts to help ensure a safe and well-maintained network environment.

SolarWinds IP Control Bundle

© 2021 SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. All rights reserved.

When it comes to IP conflict solution tools, I highly recommend the SolarWinds IP Control Bundle (IPCB), which contains SolarWinds IP Address Manager (IPAM) and SolarWinds User Device Tracker (UDT).

The IPCB can enable you to:

  • discover what time an IP conflict was detected, all subnets impacted by the conflict, and even what kind of issue it may be—all simply by hovering over a given IP address.
  • resolve IP address conflict by automatically disabling an affected port, which allows your network to function normally until you can fix the IP address conflict.
  • organize your IP addresses and manage your DHCP scopes, switches, and ports.

Download a 30-day free trial of the SolarWinds IPCB today or learn more.

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