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Static or dynamic IP address – which one is right for you?

By now you probably know an IP address is an important series of numbers that matters in relation to your internet connection. In reality, however, an IP address is a bit more complex than that just as series of numbers. They come in two forms, static and dynamic, each being suited for different types of activities.

If you go to an internet provider, they will often ask if you want a static or dynamic IP, so before you get caught off guard, it is worth understanding what both of these IP types are suited for so that you know what you are paying for.

But before we dive into why you need one or the other, we must first take a look at what exactly is an IP address.

What is an IP address?

When a device is connected to a network, it is given a unique number known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. This IP address acts as an ID for devices and allows them to communicate. Usually, IP addresses look something like this: 66.216.170.51 – 4 series of hexadecimal numbers separated by periods. This is called an IPv4. There is also an IPv6 version of IP addresses, which has six series of hexadecimal numbers separated by colons. They can look something like this: 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334

Computers are good with numbers, but in order for humans to understand them, the internet also uses Domain Name Systems (DNS) as an address, such as www.google.com. When your device connects to a DNS address, uses the DNS to identify the IP address for that particular domain. Your phone, computer, smart TV, and any device that connects to the internet can have an IP address.

When would I need a static IP address?

A static residential IP address is an address that does not change once it was assigned to a device. Only when the device is decommissioned or when the network architecture changes will your IP address be required to change as well.

Static IP addresses are usually assigned by your Internet Service Provider, but you will have to discuss your options with them first to figure out costs.

Usually, static IP addresses are used for situations when you need to host servers:

  • Running a web server that requires external Internet access
  • Running an email server that requires external Internet access
  • Run an app or service that requires external Internet access, usually for licensing purposes

When would I need a dynamic IP address?

Most internet providers give out dynamic IP addresses, as they are the most commonly used. As the name calls it, dynamic IP addresses are subject to change. We use dynamic IP addresses precisely because we don’t have enough IPV4 static addresses to go around. This is why most residential properties are given a dynamic IP address, which changes periodically.

Dynamic IP addresses are used for a number of reasons, including:

  • Browsing the internet
  • Sending and receiving emails using an off-site server such as Hotmail or Gmail
  • Downloading and uploading files using HTTP or FTP
  • Running a server that requires access from your local area network

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