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Static IP vs. Dynamic IP: Definitions & Differences

Static IP vs. Dynamic IP: Definitions & Differences

Whether it's your smartphone, tablet, PC, or laptop, all internet-connected devices have what's known as an internet protocol address or IP address. Your IP address helps your network distinguish different devices from one another and lets other networks identify your network during information exchanges.

Within these addresses are two important subtypes: static IPs and dynamic IPs. Both of these address types have their own separate definition, purpose, and benefits. Which type of IP you choose will depend on your intended use of the internet and whether you are using the IP for business-related matters.

Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses

Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses

When it comes to IP addresses, you will have both a private and public IP. Your public IP, or global IP, is how the rest of the internet recognizes your network. A private IP is for each device, allowing your network to tell each one apart. Your public IP will be what falls into the static and dynamic categories. The specific category is primarily determined by how the address changes during connections.

What is a Static IP Address?

A dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) server doesn't assign a static IP address but instead is manually configured and set for one device. These addresses are kept the same to make them easier to identify and are especially helpful for those that regularly access a specific server or device. This could be a server hosted on your network, a personal website, or if you intend to use a remote access program.

Static IP addresses have several uses and benefits, including:

  • Less downtime: A static IP doesn’t change, so there is no time taken up by finding a new IP, disconnecting from the existing address, and connecting to the new one.
  • Ideal for Hosting: If someone has set up a server to host a file-sharing service, online-connected videogame, or their own website, you need a constant active connection. A static IP is perfect for this.
  • Makes Remote Access More Convenient: Remote access services, like those offered by a virtual private network or VPN, are much easier to use with a static IP.
  • Better Communications: Because the IP address doesn't change, static IPs are great for Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, communications. This can be for audio calls, video calls, or any program that combines both.

Static IPs also have their disadvantages, primarily in their cost difference. Because there are only so many static IPs to assign, there is a smaller supply than dynamic IPs. This means that ISPs will charge static IP users more. They also are more susceptible to cyberattacks because they do not change. While an IP staying the same is convenient for those needing constant access, it also means that once a hacker gets an IP, they don't need to find it again.

What is a Dynamic IP Address?

Dynamic IP addresses aren't tied to a single device and automatically change after a set time. While there is more downtime during a switch compared to a static IP, you have more security. Because the address is constantly changing, it's not as vulnerable to hackers. A hacker doesn't need to shift their strategy to adjust for new addresses with a static IP. To get a dynamic IP address, they need to change how they communicate with the network or device.

Benefits and uses of a dynamic IP address include:

  • Ease of Use: Static IP addresses will often need to be configured manually; for a dynamic IP, the DHCP server will automatically take care of the assignment process.
  • Save Money: Unlike the finite nature of static IPs, dynamic IPs can be reused amongst the entire connected user base. This automated process makes it less costly for the ISP, who generally passes those savings on to the customer.
  • Better Cybersecurity: As mentioned above, dynamic IPs tend to be far more resilient to cyberattacks. Because of the rate at which new IPs are assigned, hackers have a lot more difficulty identifying them.

Is it Better to Have a Static IP or Dynamic IP?

Is it Better to Have a Static IP or Dynamic IP?

Neither static nor dynamic IP is necessarily better; however, they have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Which is better for you will depend on the nature of your internet use and whether you need online access for business or personal reasons. A static IP is generally better for those who host websites or online business-related services. For your average internet user, a dynamic address is usually preferable.

Which type of address you use will depend on what you are doing online and what facets of internet access are most important to you. A dynamic IP would be better if you don't need an easily identifiable IP and want better cybersecurity. If you need a constant connection, say for teleconferencing or a similar form of communication, a static IP would be the more efficient choice.

How Can I Find My IP Address?

There are two simple ways to find an IP address:

  1. Google: to find your public IP, you can google “what is my IP address” for a quick answer.
  2. Check Your Wi-Fi settings: You can also find your public or private IP by checking the settings on your smartphone or computer. When you check your Wi-Fi settings, this is almost always under the "Advanced" section.

Unfortunately, others can also get your IP easily by taking these steps. With an IP address, you can conduct an IP address lookup, also known as a reverse IP address lookup. These can give you, or someone who has somehow gotten your IP, many details about your digital footprint, including:

  • Owner’s Identity
  • Geolocation
  • Internet Activity
  • Host Name
  • Domain Name
  • Public Records
  • Contact Details

You can use these searches to see what information is available about you online. If you believe an IP has accessed your network illegally, you can use a reverse IP address lookup to see who that address belongs to.

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