What is a Static or Dynamic IP?
The term IP address is popular jargon in the computing and connectivity world, but not everyone fully understands what it means. All computers have IP addresses that allow them to communicate with each other online. When connected to the internet, computers speak the same “internet language” referred to as the IP Protocol or just IP.
Depending on your contract with your internet service provider, you can get a static or dynamic IP address. The latter changes while the former remains the same. The type you receive depends on the nature of your service agreement. But what does this all mean for you?
With the General Data Protection Regulation, it may become the norm for you and all other internet users to be identified by their IP addresses. So, it’s important for you to understand the difference between the two, their function, and how to protect them.
IP Address Explained (vs DNS)
An IP address is a unique address assigned to every computer where internet traffic or data is delivered. It comprises personally identifiable information automatically captured by another computer when it picks up communication links online. Think of it as a postal or street address that informs other computer programs where to deliver the data you request. Requests can include anything from sending or receiving emails to accessing web pages.
As you’ve figured, domain names haven’t been mentioned up to this point because, frankly, they aren’t a prerequisite for the internet to work! However, to make navigation easier for humans, the Internet uses the Domain Name System (DNS) as an optional feature. This system converts IP addresses into names. It’s more like an internet address book people can use to navigate the internet. So, say, for instance, you type a URL on your web browser, it then uses DNS to look up that domain.
Static vs Dynamic: What’s the Difference?
The term static IP address means what it says on the tin; the IP address remains fixed. Once an IP address is assigned to your computer or device by your ISP, it doesn’t change. It remains the same even if you reboot or reconnect your computer.
On the other hand, a dynamic IP address automatically changes whenever you restart your computer or device. Typically, your ISP randomly assigns this dynamic IP address with every reboot. However, there are instances where your ISP might change your IP address even when you didn’t reboot. In this case, you’ll need to constantly double-check the address if you want to reference it.
When to use a Static IP Address vs Dynamic IP Address?
Generally, most users can do without a static IP address. It’s pretty much only necessary if you need websites or other external software to remember your IP address. For instance, if you’re running a mail or web server. There’s very little chance users will be redirected elsewhere because of changes in IP address.
Also, a static IP address is the way to go if you value stability when browsing online since it never changes. In addition, a static IP address also comes in handy if you’re a business with several remote employees. It’s easier to manage and maintain connectivity on multiple devices using a static IP address.
On the flip side, we recommend using a dynamic IP address if you want complete anonymity while browsing. That’s because the latter can be shared among different users, while a static IP address is tied to your account only. Also, a dynamic IP address is ideal if you’re looking to unblock several geo-blocked websites.
How to Get a Static IP Address
It’s possible to obtain a static IP address from your internet service provider, but at a fee and by request only. But whether they’ll grant it to you or not, will depend on your contract. All you do is contact them and put in your request.
If approved, you can manually change your regular IP address to a static one using Windows settings. However, the process is no simple task and is better suited for someone with basic IP protocol knowledge. But for interest’s sake, we briefly outline the steps below:
- Go to Start and navigate to Settings.
- Select Network & Internet.
- Click on Properties.
- Click on Edit under the IP assignment.
- Select Manual and turn on the IPv4 button and insert the IP address.
- Click Save.
Pros and Cons of Static IP Address
Using a static IP address has several perks but it’s not immune to a few drawbacks. We list them below so that you make an informed decision.
- Better remote access: A static IP address is much simpler and more convenient if you want to work remotely. For example, if you want to use a VPN.
- Better server hosting: It’s much easier for customers to find you online when you have a static IP address. Visitors will find it much quicker to identify and get to your website.
- Efficient DNS support: You’re guaranteed better DNS support with a static IP address because it’s easier to set up and manage.
- Better communication: A static IP address allows for better and more reliable online communication. It makes it easier to use voice or video communications online for teleconferencing.
- Reliable geo-streaming: You have a better shot of enjoying reliable geo-streaming services with a static IP address. It’s much easier for services to assess your location accurately.
- Security risk: Static IP addresses pose security risks as they are easier to hack. It’s not surprising, considering cyber hackers can pinpoint your IP address on the internet.
- Costly: A static IP address is available at a higher cost than a dynamic one, especially with consumer plans.
Pros and Cons of Dynamic IP Addresses
Similarly, a dynamic IP address has areas it excels in and some not-so-pleasing characteristics.
- User-friendly: A dynamic IP address is automatic and carefree. The server automatically assigns the IP address, so there’s little to no work needed from your end.
- Cost-effective: A dynamic IP address is easy on the pocket as it has low fees.
- Unlimited IP addresses: Since dynamic IP addresses continuously change, you can reuse them. You don’t have to manually configure or delete an IP address if you bring home a new computer. The network takes care of it.
- Better security: It’s more secure than a static IP address since you can throw hackers off your trail. A dynamic IP address makes it harder for hackers to assess your exact location online.
- Poor performance with hosted services: A dynamic IP address doesn’t particularly work well with a hosted service such as email since it’s always changing. You could use the Dynamic DNS services to bypass the hurdle, but that’s an additional expense.
- Increased possibility of internet downtime: It’s very much possible that your ISP can fail to assign your computer an IP address. Though it doesn’t happen often, it’s still a possibility. This, unfortunately, interrupts your internet connection resulting in internet downtime.
- Limited remote access: You may find it difficult to enjoy seamless remote access with a dynamic VPN, depending on your computer’s software.
- Inaccurate geo-location services: There’s a higher chance of your IP address geo-location failing with a dynamic IP address. That’s because you may have an address that doesn’t reveal your correct location.
Why Do You Need to Use a VPN with Your IP Address?
Whether you use a static or dynamic IP address, the bottom line is you need to take extra measures to protect your connection online. A VPN helps you achieve just that by hiding your IP address and encrypting all your internet traffic. Why would you want to do that?
ISPs can see everything you do online, whether you use a static or dynamic IP address. They can track all the websites you visit, how long you spend there, and the content you view. It even reveals the device you’re using and where you’re connected from. Before you flip out, this refers to your general location and not your exact home address.
When you download a VPN onto your device, you automatically connect to a private server, and any data you search is scrambled. Because your IP address is masked, your data becomes unreadable, and this also prevents hackers from following you around online to protect your privacy.
Static vs Dynamic IP Address: Which One to Take?
The type of IP address you pick boils down to your personal preferences. If reliability and stability are high on your list of priorities, then a static IP address is ideal. On the other hand, if privacy and security are your major concerns, you’re better off using a dynamic IP address.
Luckily, there are additional measures to further protect your static or dynamic IP address, but this comes at a relatively small cost. Downloading a VPN is a surefire way to hide and protect your IP address for safe connectivity overall.