Dynamic vs Static IP Address
When you sign up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), you will either end up with a static IP address or a dynamic IP address. What’s the difference between the two?
Haven’t you ever marveled at how the internet knows how to get information directly to your computer? It’s not magic: your IP address is key (along with many other factors).
In this article, we’ll put you at home on your computer and talk about the IP address you likely use most often.
An IP address (the IPv4 version, which is the most common) consists of a string of numbers, separated by periods (dots). Each IP address is separated into four segments by three periods.
(An example would be: 18.104.22.168).
If you’re connected to the internet, your computer will show your address … the one that identifies the internet connection you’re using at that moment. (Note: It identifies only the connection, not the computer user.)
Your IP address is your network’s unique address. Like your physical home address in “the real world,” it’s used to identify your virtual location for sending and receiving data. It is also used to help you stay logged into websites you use frequently, and, in some cases, it can be used to block you from viewing content, like being banned from a website or browsing information from a restricted county.
The Two Types of IPs
There are two types of IP addresses: dynamic and static.
Dynamic means “constantly changing.” The prefix dyna- means power, but dynamic IP addresses aren’t more powerful. They can simply change from time to time.
Static means constant. Static. Stand. Stable. A static IP address doesn’t change unless you change it yourself.
Most IP addresses assigned today by Internet Service Providers are dynamic IP addresses. It’s more cost-effective for the ISP and you.
End of story, right?
Well, more or less. If you read on, you’ll learn about the difference between a dynamic IP vs. static IP, in a non-technical language you can understand.
Maybe you’re asking yourself which one you should choose. For most of us, we simply need a reliable connection, and our Internet Service Providers deliver a Dynamic IP address to us. It works for them. It works for us. Sure, the dynamic IP address can change from time to time, but even when it does, you may never notice.
With a dynamic IP address, you wait to see what you get. With a static IP, you reserve the same (maybe better) IP address every time.
So, is it better to have a static IP or dynamic IP? In the end for a casual internet user, It doesn’t matter all that much. You’re connected to the Internet with either one.
What type of IP do you have?
You may also be curious to know if your current IP address is static or dynamic. You can do a little legwork and find out on your own, but we have a simple tool to help you identify your IP details.
Go to our home page, and your IP address will be displayed automatically. Under this display, you’ll see the words “Show Complete IP Details.”
Click that box, and you’ll go right to an informative page that will tell you all you need to know about your IP address, including whether it’s dynamic or static.
More About Static IPs
If your IP address at home is static, it means that it will remain the same every time you connect to your home network.
Just keep in mind that an IP address doesn’t travel with you. If you took your laptop to a coffee shop and used their wireless network, that IP address would be different. But on your home network, your static IP address would always be the same.
Let’s dig a little deeper into a static IP.
As you’ve already learned, a static IP never changes. It will be the same every time you log on to your home network whether it’s today, next week, or next month.
Static IP addresses increase network security and control over connections. Having a static IP address will give users consistent availability and improve reliability as well as provide you with a fixed geolocation.
Users who create and host servers are among those who benefit most from a static IP address. They are the preferred choice for businesses who need to assign email and other dedicated services. Static IP addresses are a great choice when you’re connecting via VPN as well.
Static IP addresses can be chosen in any geophysical location across the globe, making them a flexible choice for international operations of any kind, whether it’s strategic business usage or gaming, streaming, or browsing in a country that bans users from other countries. China and Russia, for example, have built complex firewalls to block international users from most of their sites, but users with know-how will use certain devices, some of which will have static IPs, to get around those.
Here are some other static IP advantages:
- Businesses are better suited for it than residences.
- It’s also better for dedicated services such as mail, FTP, and web servers.
- It’s good for creating or hosting computer servers.
- It makes it easier for geolocation services to accurately assess where you are.
Because of these advantages, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that it costs more to get one.
Of course, it’s not as easy as all that. First, static IP addresses are on request only. Because it takes some good technical skills to set up, there’s also a lot more involved with having a static IP address than keeping your dynamic IP address.
How to Get a Static IP
Generally, a static IP address is assigned by request and for a fee by an IT administrator at your place of work, but you can set one up on your home network.
Static IP addresses will cost you a small monthly fee, generally starting at around $15 per month on average for a single IP. You will need to contact your ISP (internet service provider) to obtain your static IP address.
Have your account information handy, as well as your current IP address that you found on our home page.
Your ISP may also request a MAC address (media access control address), which will be six sets of two characters each separated by colons. It will be configured like this: 12:34:ab:56:7c:8d.
It may take a few days for your ISP to issue the new address. Once your ISP provides you with the new IP address, simply install it on your device by following our static IP address setup guide.
More on Dynamic IPs
You’ll read most everywhere that a dynamic IP address can change “at any time.” This is true, but it doesn’t mean that it happens frequently. The fact is, even if you have a dynamic IP address it may not change for months on end.
And if it does, it’s really not a big deal. Why is that?
Because ultimately, all an IP address does is keep you connected. There are a few more reasons you can feel good about a dynamic IP address:
- It doesn’t cost you anything extra.
- It’s carefree, automatic, and reliable with very little work on your end.
- Your geolocation might be less accurate (if that matters to you).
- For your ISP, it’s the most efficient use of IP addresses.
The “dynamic” part comes from something called DHCP, or Dynamic Host Control Protocol. It all happens in the background. Technically, your computer or device “leases” (at no extra charge) an IP address to get connected.
That said, there are some drawbacks with a dynamic IP.
For instance, your upload and download speeds will be faster with a static IP address. You may not really notice, anyway, and most people get used to the service and speeds they get and never worry about a few lost milliseconds. Besides, you can increase your speed with a plan upgrade.
Another drawback is that you can’t set up a reliable server with a changeable IP address. But most of us don’t care about that. We just want to game, shop, check our emails, and look at videos of kittens on YouTube.
How to Get a Dynamic IP
When it comes to IP addresses, it doesn’t get any simpler than a dynamic IP. Brew a nice cup of coffee, sit down in front of your computer … and do nothing.
Your ISP has already issued your dynamic IP address, so go ahead and enjoy your hassle-free browsing experience.
Masking Your IP Address
While it’s true your ISP provides your IP address, you can control who sees it. There may be times that you want to change or mask that IP address. Logging in from your local coffee shop? Looking to surf the internet in a country that bans U.S. users? There are a few reasons you might want to renew or change your dynamic IP address before it refreshes on its own. Here are a few ways you can mask or change it.
Our first recommendation to hide your IP address is a VPN (Virtual Private Network), especially if you’re logging on to public Wi-Fi. A VPN masks your IP address and allows you to choose from a variety of servers, including ones outside of the U.S. There are many VPN providers to choose from, some better than others, some free, and some packed with awesome must-have features. All VPNs encrypt your data for an extra layer of security.
Check out our VPN comparison guide to take the legwork out of the search for your perfect VPN provider.
A proxy server acts as a middleman, capturing your data and sending it back out through a different server. This means your connection will appear to be on a different server even though you’re still sipping your hot chocolate on your couch. It’s a riskier choice than a VPN because most proxy servers do not encrypt your data. While there are free versions, it’s safer to pay a little for the proxy for security and peace of mind. We recommend Smartproxy.
Tor, also known as The Onion Router, is an anonymous network run by volunteers. It requires a download and installation of the Tor browser, which will then re-route all internet traffic through its network. It’s a free solution, but it’s slower and more suited for bare-bones browsing than gaming or streaming. The anonymity of Tor means it’s associated with some pretty sketchy activities on the dark web, but it’s not illegal to use and is a viable option for masking your IP address.
Unplug your modem
If you want to easily change your IP address in a pinch, simply unplug your router, wait, and plug it back in. This isn’t always successful, though, because you may be reassigned to the same IP address you were trying to change. The longer you leave your modem unplugged, the better your chances of receiving a new IP address.
Long story short, the average user does not have to worry about their IP at all. You’ll be happily surfing with your dynamic IP, and should a customer service rep need that info, they’ll be able to walk you through finding it. More technical users, however, may find they prefer some of the advantages of a static IP.
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