One of the main reasons you might pick a business broadband package over a standard home service is the advantages that come with having a static IP address. From running a website and hosting a server to using networked printers, having a fixed IP address is ideal when you’re running a company.
In this guide, we’ll cover what exactly a static IP address is, how to get one and why you should choose it over a dynamic address. Read on to increase your IP IQ.
IP stands for Internet Protocol. Your IP address is a unique number assigned by your broadband provider as a way of identifying your computer when it's online. In the same way a postal address tells the postman where to deliver your letters, your IP address informs the network provider where to send data.
Most of us have a dynamic IP address, which means it changes each time we switch on our device. With a static IP address (also known as fixed IP address or dedicated IP address), it stays the same. That unique number is attributed to your connection and computer alone.
You can configure the following devices to have a static IP address:
Having a static IP address means your computer is easier to find and connect to. That's not to say you necessarily need one, though; most of us get along just fine with a dynamic IP. But for a business owner, having a static IP has some major benefits.
With a static IP, you can:
A static IP address is essential to do this. Plus, you may also want a fixed IP for gaming, if you need a domain name or to transfer files safely and reliably.
You can also set up an email server for even tighter control.
Each time a dynamic IP address refreshes, you may endure a period of downtime. While this is usually short-lived, it can be unfortunate if you need a constant connection. A static IP never needs to refresh, so your connection stays strong.
Having a static IP makes it easier for you to access your PC wherever you are.
If you want to host your own, you'll require a static IP.
You'll have less crackle and lost connections with a static IP.
Speeds are often faster than with a dynamic IP address.
While all these benefits seem like a compelling reason to choose a static IP, there're several disadvantages. For one thing, security should be a concern, as static IPs are more vulnerable to being hacked due their never-changing status. With a dynamic IP address that constantly changes, hackers have far less time to find chinks in your device's armour.
And, then there's cost – you'll likely have to pay extra for your provider to set one up for you.
Another chief drawback is that, unlike dynamic IP addresses, you'll have to configure your devices manually. First, you'll need to set up your computer with an IP address and then configure your router to work with that unique address. Compared with having a dynamic address, which just involves plugging in your router, it's a lot more work.
Plus, there's the issue of network compatibility. If you assign your device a specific IP address but then switch to a new network that doesn't use those types of addresses, you won't be able to connect. Instead, you'd have to reconfigure your laptop to use a dynamic IP or choose a new static IP that's compatible with the new network.
While a static IP is an ever-constant address, the dynamic IP constantly fluctuates. The static IP is configured to a particular device, a dynamic one is free to roam, used for a specified duration before returning to a pool of addresses that other devices can then use.
Dynamic IP addresses are useful for this very reason: if a broadband provider only used static IP addresses, there'd be a shortage of addresses for new customers. The availability of dynamic IP addresses means that many more devices can access the internet than would otherwise be possible.
On the other hand, having a static IP address means reduced downtime, which is perfect for hosting websites, file sharing and gaming – all activities that require faultless connections.
Having a static IP also comes in handy when you need external devices or websites to remember your unique address, i.e. when you're accessing your device remotely.
Many business broadband providers will include a free static IP address in your package, but it's best to check first before you sign up. You may be charged a little bit extra each month for having one.
With standard home broadband, it'll likely cost you more to have a static IP address, if it's even an option. Again, check with your provider to see if it's possible.
If you found this article helpful, take a look at our full list of broadband guides and advise we have available.