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Dynamic IP vs Static IP

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Static IP address versus Dynamic: Should It Matter to You?

When you sign up with an Internet Service Provider you will either end up with a static IP address or a dynamic IP address, depending on the nature of your account. In this article, you'll learn the difference between the two.

But also, you'll find out what type of IP address you have, why you have it and how it works. And if you decide you'd rather switch sides, for reasons you'll learn about here, you can look into making that change.

IP address basics.

But first, a quick review. 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. Here's an example:

You can learn more about IP addresses in our the Learning Center.

If you're connected to the Internet, your computer will show an IP addresses...the one that identifies the computer you're using at that moment. (NOTE: it identifies only the computer, not the computer user.)

Haven't you ever marveled how the Internet knows how to get information directly to your computer? It's not magic: your IP address is the key (along with many other factors).

For the purposes of this article, we'll put you at home on your computer and talk about the IP address you likely use most often.

So here's the question: Is the IP address you use at home static or dynamic?

It's pretty simple, actually.

Static. Stand. Stable. Yes, static IP addresses don't change.

The prefix dyna means "power": however, dynamic IP addresses aren't more powerful, but they do have the power to change (or be changed).

Most IP addresses assigned today by Internet Service Providers to customers are dynamic IP addresses. It's more cost effective for the ISP and you.

You feeling dynamic?

You can go to our home page—whatismyIPaddress.com—then click on "Learn More About This IP," which is at the bottom of the map you'll see.

You'll be taken to a page that has details on your active IP address, including whether it's static or dynamic! Cool!

Is your IP address static?

If your IP address at home is static, it means that it will remain the same every time you connect...from home.

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 at home, it would always be the same if it's the static type.

Generally, a static IP address is assigned by request and for a fee by an IT administrator at work, or by you at home. Here are the advantages of a static IP address:

  • Businesses are better suited for it than residences.
  • It's also better for dedicated services such as mail, FTP and VPN 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.

Also, it takes some good technical skills to set it up. And remember, if for some reason you wanted a different IP address at home, you wouldn't be able to get one—although there are ways to "mask" any IP address using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Is your IP address dynamic?

You'll read most everywhere that a dynamic IP address can change "at any time." True, but not likely. The fact is, even if you have a dynamic IP address it's possible that it won't change for months on end.

And if it does, it's not really a big deal. Why? 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 little work on your end.
  • 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.

Is there a drawback? It's possible that your upload and download speeds would be faster if you had a static IP address, but you'll likely get used to the service and speeds you get. Besides, you could possibly increase your speed with a plan upgrade.

Also, you couldn't set up a reliable server with a changeable IP address. But most of us don't care about that.

Change isn't always bad.

As you can see, a dynamic IP address is the "standard" for most Internet connections. Static IP addresses are requested by people who want more control and say in their connection, and more capabilities with it.

Chances are that's not you. If you're not planning to host websites or setup servers, your reliable and sometimes changing dynamic IP address should be just fine.

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