While you’ve likely heard of an IP address before, you wouldn’t be wrong for not really knowing what it is, what it’s for, or what its different configurations are. Thankfully, it’s not hard to know the difference between things like static IP vs dynamic IP. You just have to know what sets them apart.
Let this serve as your guide to static IP vs dynamic IP, paying close attention to what each one is and what sets it apart from the other. By the end, we should have a much firmer grasp on these questions about IP and static vs dynamic. Let’s begin with a side-by-side comparison of the two.
Static IP vs Dynamic IP: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Servers, routers, and other important equipment
|Phones, tablets, laptops, gaming systems
|Limited remote access
Static IP vs Dynamic IP: What’s the Difference?
Now that we’ve seen how static IP vs dynamic IP compare to one another side by side, let’s take some time to discuss the most important distinctions between the two. From the way they assign IP addresses to their primary uses to their top concerns, these are the key differences that exist between static IP vs dynamic IP addresses.
IP Address Assignment
Firstly, there’s the number one key difference between static IP vs dynamic IP: the way the IP address is assigned. This key difference is right there in the name, letting you know that the two are not the same. One’s static, while the other’s dynamic. But what exactly does that mean?
We’ll dive deeper into this question below, but for now, here’s an easy way to remember. Static IP addresses are assigned once and will not change unless they are manually changed again. Dynamic IP addresses, on the other hand, refresh automatically with each reboot of the device.
Secondly, let’s consider primary uses. Beyond this major difference in assignments, there’s a corresponding difference in primary uses between a static IP address and a dynamic one.
Static IP addresses are unchanging, making them ideal for use in internet routers, computer servers, or other sorts of important locations. They remain in one place and do one task indefinitely.
Dynamic IP addresses, by comparison, are primarily used in phones, tablets, computers, and so on; anything that will be shut down at the end of use and rebooted to use again, essentially.
Thirdly, let’s talk about the key concerns for both static IP vs dynamic IP. Because a static IP address is unchanging, there’s a very apparent security risk at hand here. Hackers and cybercriminals know that the static IP address won’t be changing.
So, if they can get their hands on it, they know it’ll continue to work until someone makes a rare network change. Dynamic IP addresses come with their own concerns, as well. For instance, the ever-changing nature of a dynamic IP address seriously hinders remote access.
5 Must-Know Facts About Your IP Address
- Because IP addresses rely on geolocation in order to work properly, an IP address can reveal three things: your city, your zip code, and your specific area code.
- A device needs an IP address if it wants to connect to the Internet. You can’t log onto the web without one. They aren’t optional.
- Today, you will encounter one of two IP address types: static or dynamic. Beyond this, they will either abide by the IPv4 or the IPv6 protocol. You can tell by the length and the makeup of the address. If it’s shorter and only comprised of numbers with no letters mixed in, then it’s an IPv4 address.
- IP addresses (IPv4) consist of four sets of number combinations. However, each number of an IP address can only go up to 255. With this in mind, the total number of IP address combinations ranges from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.
- Contrary to what you might think, an IP address is not a random set of numbers. IP addresses are mathematical codes used to express key information.
IP Address Explained
You know that IP addresses have to do with your internet connection, but what about beyond that? What does IP address even stand for? And what other purposes do they serve? All valid questions, no doubt. And, thankfully, all questions with easily explainable answers.
An IP (or Internet Protocol) address is a particular set of numbers used to identify and address a computer network communicating via Internet Protocol. (This could be either IPv4 or IPv6.) In basic terms, an IP address is used to identify a network interface and provide an exact address for an online location.
IPv4 (or Internet Protocol version 4) lists IP addresses in the form of a 32-bit number separated by periods. IPv6 (or Internet Protocol version 6), on the other hand, lists its IP addresses with 128 bits of letters and numbers alike.
Additionally, an IPv6 address uses colons to separate its letters and numbers. An example of an IPv4 address might look like “126.96.36.199”, whereas “1234:ab1:0:5678:0:9101:1:0” is a better example of what an IPv6 address might look like. IPv6 is the more recent standardization, but both it and IPv4 are in use today.
If all of this still sounds somewhat complex or tricky, fear not: here’s the simplest way to explain the point of an IP address. “Internet Protocol” is a fancy way of labeling the specific rules and regulations for data formats being sent over the internet.
An IP address, then, is merely used as a way to identify a place where that data can be sent. They’re made to define both the location and the type of devices on a network that are ready and able to receive that data. IP addresses help distinguish between things like a computer, a website, and a router.
How Static IP vs Dynamic IP Differ
Simply put, IP addresses are assigned to a host in one of two ways. The first assignment is known as persistent (or static), meaning it’s assigned by a particular configuration of the host’s software or hardware.
The second assignment is known as dynamic, meaning that a new IP address is assigned each time the computer is restarted. The IP address of network infrastructure (i.e. servers or routers and mail servers), tends to be static, while the IP address of a desktop computer or other consumer electronics tends to be dynamic.
A static IP assignment works like this: for most, the first step is contacting the internet service provider (a.k.a. ISP). From there, a static IP address is granted to your device by the ISP. After this is done, you will go into your device’s settings and choose that static IP.
From then on, that static IP address will not change for the rest of the device’s (or the network’s) life. While you could certainly use a static IP address for browsing the internet, sending emails, and so on, they’re almost exclusively reserved for internet servers, routers, or other (more essential) pieces of computer equipment.
Dynamic IP assignment typically works via the DHCP — or the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). While there are certainly other ways of assigning a dynamic IP, the DHCP is far and away the most popular method.
Its popularity is due in large part to the way it circumvents the pesky administrative task of assigning each specific device on a given network its own persistent — a.k.a. static — address. More often than not, DHCP is automatically made the default on most modern-day desktop operating systems.
Static IP vs Dynamic IP: Pros and Cons
|Pros of Static IP
|Cons of Static IP
|Ideal for running servers
|More prone to security breaches
|Offers more stability
|Has to be configured manually
|Delivers faster speeds
|Most internet users do not need one
|Easier remote access
|Costs more money
|Pros of Dynamic IP
|Cons of Dynamic IP
|Cannot support a server
|Better suited for everyday internet use
|Less accurate geolocation
Static IP vs Dynamic IP: Which One Is Better?
While we usually prefer to name a winner in these sorts of showdowns, the debate between static IP vs dynamic IP really does come down to a matter of preference. Sure, dynamic IP is safer, more affordable, easier to configure, and better suited for everyday internet activity.
However, static IP is the only type of IP address that can support a server or a router. (Not to mention its faster speeds and its easier remote access on top of that.) In the end, it’s all about what you’re trying to do that ultimately determines which IP address type is the ideal one for you.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Habichtland/Shutterstock.com.