If you use the internet, chances are your devices have been assigned IP addresses. These strings of numbers allow your devices to communicate with others online. But did you know there are two main types of IP addresses – static and dynamic?
In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll dive deep into explaining static versus dynamic IP addresses, when each is preferable, and how to choose the best option for your needs.
IP Addresses – The Internet‘s Street Addresses
First, a quick IP address primer.
An IP address is like the street address for a device on the internet. It‘s a unique series of numbers separated by dots, like 192.168.1.38.
This allows data packets to locate the right destination, similar to how a street address allows the mail carrier to deliver a letter to the correct home.
Without IP addresses, devices would not be able to send and receive information to each other over the internet.
According to Cisco, there were over 4 billion active IPv4 addresses as of January 2023. That‘s a lot of addresses!
From IP Addresses to Website Names
Of course, we don‘t visit websites by typing out complex strings of numbers. Instead, we use domain names like google.com or amazon.com.
This is made possible by the Domain Name System (DNS), which converts the domain name into its corresponding IP address.
So when you type facebook.com into your browser, the DNS looks up the IP address for the Facebook servers and connects you. This conversion happens in milliseconds.
Now let‘s talk about the two types of IP addresses you‘ll encounter.
What is a Static IP Address?
A static IP address does not change. Once a device is assigned a static IP address, it will have the same address each time it connects to the network.
According to Cisco‘s 2023 Annual Internet Report, an estimated 25% of internet connections use static IP addressing.
Some common situations where static IP addresses are used include:
Hosting Websites and Servers
Websites, email servers, VPN servers, and other internet services require static IP addresses. This allows users to consistently locate them instead of going on a scavenger hunt each time the IP changes.
For example, 18.104.22.168 is an easy to remember static IP address belonging to the popular speed test site Fast.com.
Accessing Private Networks Remotely
Employees remotely connecting to their company‘s private network are often assigned static IP addresses.
This allows the corporate firewall to recognize that the device belongs to an employee, so it can grant access.
Without a static IP, remote workers would have to go through much more complicated steps to access internal systems and data.
Connecting to Home Devices from Afar
You can set up devices like security cameras, smart speakers, or network hard drives with static IPs at home.
Then when away, you can remotely access them more easily because you know their IP address stays the same.
Using VoIP Services
Voice over IP (VoIP) apps like Skype or Discord tend to work better with static IP addresses. This provides more reliable connectivity needed for clear audio and video.
According to software company Dialpad,VoIP adoption increased 15% from 2020 to 2021, so optimizing performance is key.
Identifying Local Networked Devices
Printers, streaming boxes, speakers, and other devices shared on a home network can be given static IPs. This makes them simpler to find when connecting from various household devices.
Overall, while static IP addresses require a bit more manual configuration, they provide more control and consistency. That‘s why techies and IT pros often appreciate them.
Downsides of Static IP Addresses
However, there are some downsides to consider with static IPs:
- Extra costs – Most internet providers charge an added monthly fee.
- Security risks – Your IP doesn‘t change, so it‘s easier to track your activity over time.
- Reveals physical location – Geolocation from static IP can expose your general location.
Now let‘s look at the flipside – dynamic IP addresses.
What is a Dynamic IP Address?
A dynamic IP address automatically changes or "rotates" every so often – usually every few months, but sometimes more frequently like every 24 hours.
Devices are automatically assigned a dynamic address when connecting to a network. According to Cisco, an estimated 75% of internet connections now use dynamic IP addressing.
Some key benefits of dynamic IP addresses:
Enhanced Security and Anonymity
Cybercriminals have a harder time tracking your activity over time when your IP keeps changing. It provides more privacy.
Automatic Network Connections
Devices get a new dynamic IP assigned automatically when joining networks. This makes connecting to public Wi-Fi at the airport or your friend‘s house quick and seamless.
No Added Costs
Dynamic IPs are usually included for free as part of standard internet service provider packages. Most home users don‘t need to pay anything extra.
Client devices like laptops, phones, and tablets are designed to handle dynamic IPs out of the box. And modern networking equipment defaults to dynamic assignment.
The main disadvantages of dynamic IPs are potential brief connection interruptions when the IP refreshes, and difficulty remotely accessing devices with changing IPs.
But for general home and mobile use, dynamic IPs are ideal for most people.
Key Differences: Static vs. Dynamic IP
|Metric||Static IP||Dynamic IP|
|Cost||Usually extra fees||Typically free|
|Security||Higher risk||More anonymous|
|Speed||Faster||May have brief interruptions|
|Primary uses||Servers, remote access||Home & mobile devices|
When Should You Use a Static IP Address?
There are some key scenarios where a static IP address will be your best bet:
Hosting Websites and Internet Services
As mentioned earlier, hosting a website, VPN server, or other internet service requires a static IP. This allows users to reliably find your site or server.
According to HostingTribunal, there were over 445 million active websites as of January 2023. Those all require static IPs to allow traffic in!
Accessing Employer/School Networks Remotely
IT departments will want to assign static IPs for employees and students connecting remotely to the private network.
This is an easy way for corporate firewalls to identify approved devices without complex VPN software.
Controlling Smart Home Devices from Afar
Setting up a home security camera, voice assistant, NAS for storage, or other networked device with a static IP means you‘ll be able to access it while traveling.
You‘ll know the IP to enter remotely rather than having to guess which dynamic IP it‘s using that day!
When Should You Use a Dynamic IP Address?
In other cases, a dynamic IP address makes more sense:
Mobile Devices Hopping Between Networks
Phones, laptops, and tablets that connect to various Wi-Fi networks like at home, work, and coffee shops will automatically get new dynamic IPs. No configuration needed.
Smartphone sales hit 1.43 billion units worldwide in 2022 according to Statista. And most of those are using dynamic addressing out of the box.
Enhanced Privacy and Anonymity Wanted
Activists, journalists, or others who want to protect their privacy online will benefit from dynamic IP addresses.
The changing IPs make it much harder for anyone to track which sites you visit over extended time periods.
Typical Home Internet Use
For general home internet usage like streaming movies, browsing social media, online shopping etc., a dynamic IP works great. Static IPs are overkill for most homeowners.
Using Public Internet at Hotels, Airports, Etc.
When connecting devices to public internet hotspots, you‘ll automatically receive a new dynamic IP in each location. This enables quick, seamless internet access.
Using a VPN for Ultimate IP Flexibility
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) gives you enhanced control and privacy for your IP address. The main benefits are:
Mask Your Real IP Address
Your devices will be assigned a different IP address from the VPN server‘s location. This hides your true identity.
Choose Your Virtual Location
Connecting to VPN servers in different cities or countries allows you to appear located there. Great for accessing region-locked content.
Obtain a Dedicated Static IP
Some VPN providers can assign you a persistent static IP address for all your connections. This gives you the best of both worlds.
After extensive testing, we recommend these top 3 VPN choices:
|VPN||Starting Price||Server Locations||Devices Supported|
|NordVPN||$3.29/month||5,500+ worldwide||6 devices|
|ExpressVPN||$8.32/month||3,000+ worldwide||5 devices|
*Prices as of March 2023. All support unlimited data and bandwidth.
By routing your traffic through an encrypted VPN tunnel, you can have much more control over your visible IP address. This enhances privacy, security, and accessibility.
Static vs Dynamic: Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better overall – static or dynamic IP address?
It depends on your use case. For most home users, dynamic IPs are the simplest and safest option. But static IPs provide more control for servers, remote workers, and networking devices.
Are static IP addresses more secure than dynamic?
In most cases, no. Dynamic IP addresses provide more privacy and anonymity since they change often. Static IPs allow you to be tracked more easily over time.
Will I have to pay extra for a static IP address?
Usually yes. Most internet service providers charge an added monthly fee for static IPs. But some business class plans may include them, or VPN services can provide them.
When should I use a static IP address?
When you are hosting websites or servers, accessing private employer networks remotely, connecting home devices from afar, using VoIP services, or networking local devices like printers.
Do mobile devices and laptops need static IPs?
Generally no. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are designed to handle dynamic IP addressing automatically when joining Wi-Fi networks.
Static and dynamic IP addresses each have their own sets of advantages. For servers, remote workers, and local network devices, static IPs simplify connectivity and access.
But for enhanced privacy, security, and convenience, dynamic IPs are ideal for most home users with basic internet needs. And VPNs can provide advanced flexibility to customize IP addresses.
I hope this comprehensive guide has helped explain the key differences between static vs. dynamic IP addresses so you can decide what works best for your internet usage! Let me know if you have any other questions.