IP addresses are the backbone of every network, and since they come in different types, there is still a lot of information that needs to be discussed and presented. Last time, we discussed the difference between public IP addresses and private IP addresses.
In today’s guide, we are going to walk you through the differences between static IP addresses and dynamic IP addresses. We are going to address their characteristics, their use cases, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
What is a static IP address?
A static IP is, in the simplest terms, an address that never changes. It is typically assigned by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or manually configured for a device. A device’s static IP stays the same until that device is decommissioned or your network architecture changes.
Static addresses can be viewed as an email address, or a physical home address. These addresses do not change (unless specified otherwise), thus being an efficient way of contacting or finding someone. In essence, static IPs are useful for servers or other important equipment.
What are the practical applications of a static IP address?
There are many use cases for static IP addresses. Many businesses buy or lease dedicated IPs for their versatility and efficiency for specific business needs. Let’s discuss the most common and important applications of static addresses.
They offer better DNS support. DNS stands for “Domain Name System”. It is responsible for translating domain names into specific IP addresses in order for the initiating client, for example a browser, to load the requested Internet resources. Think of DNS like a phone book where users can search for a certain person and retrieve their phone number.
DNS servers use static addresses so that devices always know how to connect to them. Because they never change, static IP addresses are much easier to set up and manage with DNS servers. On the other hand, dynamic IP addresses can make this process difficult. If IPs are changed often, you would in turn have to reconfigure those DNS servers on your router or computer if you want to be able to access the Internet.
In addition, static IPs are an efficient solution in case the domain name of a certain device is inaccessible. For example, devices connected to a corporate network could be configured to always connect to the server via the server’s static IP address instead of the server’s hostname. This works even if the DNS server is malfunctioning.
Static addresses are very useful for hosting. Whether it’s about hosting a web server, email server, or any other kind of server, static IPs make it easiest for you customers to find you via DNS, which translates to clients being able to get to your websites and services faster. Not only that, but static IPs come into help if you have a file server in your network, use networked printers, forward ports to a specific device, run a print server, or use a remote access program.
Since a static IP address never changes, other devices always know exactly how to contact a device that uses one. For example, let’s say you configure a static IP for a computer in your corporate network. Once the computer has a specific address tied to it, a router can be set up to always forward certain inbound requests directly to that computer, such as FTP requests if the computer shares files over FTP (File Transfer Protocol), which is a means businesses often use to transfer files between computers.
A static IP also facilitates remote access. When your computer or router is assigned a static IP you can, for example, configure it in such a way that you can more easily gain remote access to your own computer from anywhere on the global network. Programs, applications, or even a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can be configured to be accessed remotely.
Online communication becomes more reliable with the help of static IPs. This type of addresses makes it easier and more stable to use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software for video and audio communications via the Internet.
Static IP addresses improve the accuracy of geo-location services. With a static IP address, services can match the IP address with its physical location. For example, using a weather service with a static IP address can result in gathering the weather report for that specific location instead of an approximate location or a nearby city or region. In addition, such dedicated IPs can be helpful for businesses that require geo-located addresses for various use cases, like data collection or the ability to access geo-restricted content.
And last but not least, static addresses help with maintaining consistency in email deliverability reputation. In the simplest terms, IP reputation is an indicator for how trustworthy an IP address is. In other words, it is a measure designed to determine how legitimate browsing behavior online is. Fraudulent entities, like spammers and bots, will naturally have a bad address reputation, which in turn can lead to that specific IP getting blacklisted.
A company that uses good business practices for email deliverability will successfully manage to keep a good IP reputation for that specific dedicated/static IP. This increases the amount of emails that successfully arrive in the recipients’ inboxes and lowers the risk of those emails being flagged as spam.
So, if your IP address changes, you lose your previous reputation, and your mails will potentially again start ending up in the “spam” folder. This is equally important if you buy or lease IP addresses as well. Transparency is an important aspect of this process, and making sure you get reputable IPv4 or IPv6 addresses will help you stay on top.
What are the downsides of using a static IP address?
Even though they bring significant benefits, static IP addresses have their flaws in some situations. Let’s examine a couple of situations where static IPs are at disadvantage.
One of the most significant disadvantages pertains to security risks. Static IP addresses are more likely to be subjected to cyber attacks targeting your server over the Internet. Static IPs are more accurate from a geo-location perspective. This is why reaching your location, network or servers is easier if you operate on a static IP. An address that never changes gives hackers enough time to find vulnerabilities in the device’s network.
A solution for preventing such data breach is using a business VPN. You can read our previous article about B2P VPNs and their advantages here. VPNs encrypt not only your IP address but also the entire data you send and receive over the Internet. It is a great tool for business networks and/or for remote working employees that need to access corporate data in a safe manner.
Static IPs can also be more difficult to configure. In most cases, users need to manually assign and configure a static IPs for a certain device. In the aforementioned examples regarding setting up servers and remote access programs, you need to set up the device with a specific IP address and then properly configure the router to communicate with that specific IP the device has been assigned. This is more time consuming and tedious than allowing the router to be assigned a dynamic IP via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol).
In addition, maintaining high numbers of static addresses is often more costly, which can prevent businesses from investing into much more important assets. A more cost-efficient alternative would be to lease dedicated IP addresses from trustworthy brokers like Pubconcierge. Working with a transparent broker enables you to get the dedicated IP ranges that match your business needs.
What is a dynamic IP address?
In contrast, a dynamic IP address is a temporary IP that constantly changes. Dynamic addresses are assigned, as needed, by DHCP servers. If a dynamic address is not in use, it can be automatically assigned to a different device. Dynamic IPs are an interesting counterpart to static IPs due to their “volatile” nature.
Usually, either an ISP or a DHCP server will allocate you a dynamic IP address. This process is more streamlined and easier than manually configuring a static IP address. DHCP is an Internet protocol that computers on a network use to get IP addresses and other information such as the default gateway.
When you connect to the Internet, a computer configured as a DHCP server at the ISP automatically assigns you an IP address. It could be the same IP address you had before, or it could be a new one. When you close an Internet connection that uses a dynamic IP address, the ISP can assign that IP address to a different customer. This is an interesting solution designed to alleviate the worldwide IPv4 scarcity.
In short, dynamic IP addresses are used for a specific amount of time and then returned to an address pool so that other devices can use them. Dynamic addresses provide a way for IP addresses to be reused when they’re not in use elsewhere, providing internet access for more devices than would otherwise be possible.
Rotating IP addresses is not practiced exclusively by ISPs. Many Internet users across the world deliberately rotate their IP addresses because of the benefits this process brings. In fact, these users rotate proxies, which in turn helps them benefit from multiple IP addresses. There are different methods of rotating IP addresses, but generally speaking, if you accurately configure the proxy server, numerous connections from a single device can be set up and managed.
What are the advantages of using dynamic IP addresses?
Dynamic IP addresses are suitable for many use cases thanks to their flexibility. The idea of using a dynamic IP is designed to come as a solution for companies and users that want to manage and improve their projects and businesses more efficiently. So, let’s take a look at what a dynamic IP undoubtedly helps you with.
A dynamic IP is way easier to configure. Setting up dynamic IPs for devices is usually done automatically by the DHCP server. Users do not need to manually configure their devices to use a specific static IP address. Instead, the DHCP server automatically assigns the device the next available IP address.
Dynamic IPs consolidate both digital and physical security. Thanks to their ever-changing nature, dynamic IPs can help lower the risk of a potential attacker targeting your networked equipment. In addition, a dynamic IP is harder to trace, so information about the location of you or your server is more secure. Dynamic IPs work with a VPN as well, if you need your network traffic secured via end-to-end encryption.
Dynamic IPs can help you bypass certain restrictions. Users who rotate their IPs have a greater chance of accessing geo-restricted web content because they do not operate on specific geo-located IPs. Instead, when users rotate their IPs, they automatically change the geo-location of their dynamic IPs.
This can also translate into better efficiency when using task automatization for things such as data collection. Data scraping is a challenging process that encounters many obstacles. Companies that engage in data collection have to face the risk of their IPs being flagged, blacklisted or banned by the websites they attempt to access multiple times in order to collect vast amounts of data. Same benefits apply to SEO practices (e.g verifying keyword rankings in various locations/countries) or data intelligence companies that want to check websites for analytics and/or for checking performance.
Furthermore, you can benefit from nearly-unlimited IP addressing. Because they keep changing, dynamic addresses allow you to reuse IP addresses. Within a specific network, devices are automatically configured with a fresh dynamic IP address as needed. This leads to more easily setting up a device and allowing it to communicate with the other, already existing devices in that network. It is the router that prevents confusing conflicts when two computers try to use the same IP address.
What are the disadvantages of using dynamic IP addresses?
Such IP addresses are flexible, indeed. They have many important applications and aid in many different situations that require constantly rotating IPs and consolidating security. Yet, there are some shortcomings.
They are less reliable and efficient for hosted services. Unlike dynamic addresses, static IP offer more uptime and stability. When dynamic addresses obtain a new IP address, any user connected to the existing address is removed from the connection and has to wait to find the new address. It’s quite clear this wouldn’t be a wise setup if the server hosts a website, a file-sharing service or anything else that requires constant Internet connection.
What is more, DNS is not that compatible with dynamic IP addresses since the address is always changing. There are Dynamic DNS services that take care of this issue. However, they add expense and complexity, things that can severely hinder a company’s investment in more important resources.
Dynamic IPs may also limit remote access capabilities. Depending on your remote access software, your program may have trouble connecting if you use a dynamic IP address. Fortunately, a VPN can be employed to act as a static IP address. The user device is assigned an actual static IP address, and all data is routed via an encrypted tunnel that helps maintain a stable connection for remotely accessing your computer or other device. Except for end-to-end encryption, proxy servers can also be a suitable method.
You risk more downtime. Sometimes, the ISP is unable to quickly assign a dynamic IP address, which can interrupt your Internet connection and delay your activities. While this might not seem that important for end users, such downtimes can be quite problematic for companies.
Dynamic IPs do not offer accurate geo-location. A dynamic IP address can make your geo-location services fail because it no longer reflects your real-world location. If you still wish to use dynamic IPs for geo-locating purposes, it would be helpful to use dynamic IPs that are specifically geo-located for your region of choice.
|Static IPs||Dynamic IPs|
|They are usually provided by an ISP (Internet Service Provider)||They are assigned to your device via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol)|
|They do not change, meaning you cannot alter them unless you contact your ISP.||Dynamic IPs change all the time when you close your network connection.|
|Static IPs are less secure because they never change and can be traced more easily. Usually a VPN is used to consolidate security.||They offer better protection because they keep changing and do not reveal your network or location.|
|They are difficult to configure manually||Assigning and configuring them is very easy, usually done automatically.|
|They are more stable, providing consistent uptime.||Because they keep being rotated and reused, you risk longer periods of downtime until the ISP can assign you a new IP.|
|They are more reliable for hosting applications like servers, websites and different services.||They do not work well with standard DNS, meaning you cannot host servers, websites and other services efficiently.|
|Usually, managing them can be quite expensive.||Their flexibility and reusability lowers maintenance costs.|
|They facilitate remote access programs||Using them for remote access is difficult, if not impossible|
|Useful in email deliverability||They can be less transparent and risk being flagged and/or banned by websites, email service providers, blacklists and other entities|
|Less reliable for data scraping and accessing geo-restricted content||Because they keep rotating, you can scrape the same website multiple times with different dynamic IPs. This works even for otherwise geo-restricted websites.|
Static vs. Dynamic – How to find out which one you are using?
In most cases, users are browsing the Internet by default via dynamic IP addresses. However, some Internet providers may also assign static IP addresses at a company’s request or under certain circumstances.
There is a simple way to find out by yourself whether you are using a static or a dynamic IP, both on Windows and Mac devices. Let’s have a look.
For Windows, you can use the Command Prompt (Admin) to find information about your IP Address type, like so:
- Right-click on the Start button and click on Command Prompt option or write Command Prompt into the Start search bar to pop it out;
- On the Command Prompt window, type “ipconfig /all” and hit the Enter key;
- Once the command is executed, scroll down and locate DHCP Enabled line and read the word next to it;
- If the word next to DHCP Enabled is Yes, you have a dynamic IP address and if the word is No you have a static IP address.
You can also do that by hitting the Start button, clicking on the Settings (cogwheel) button, selecting Network & Internet, then Properties. All you need to do is scroll down to IP settings and check whether IP assignment states Automatic (DHCP) by default.
If you’re using MacOS, you’ll need to head to the System Preferences icon under the Apple menu. Click on Network, and then Advanced. There you will notice an option specifically called TCP/IP. Under this item it will say either Manually, or Using DHCP. Similar to Windows, if it says using DHCP, then your IP address is dynamic, not static.
Static or Dynamic? What should you go for?
While both types come with their own advantages and disadvantages, there is no perfect option to fit all requirements. Depending on use cases and applications, you might need to make more use of a static IP than of a dynamic address and vice versa.
It is generally considered that static, dedicated IP addresses are more valuable for business environments. More and more companies decide to invest in pools of dedicated, static IP addresses, thanks to their stability and consistency.
Their limitations are somehow counterbalanced by the advantages of dynamic IP addresses in certain areas like security and bypassing geo-restrictions. Therefore, deciding whether dynamic or static IP addresses are better for you also depends on the nature of the connection.