IP (Internet Protocol) addresses work like digital street addresses that let devices find each other on the internet. Every internet device has a unique IP address. All of these addresses can be converted into text formats via the Domain Name System (DNS) format. This forms the basis of the World Wide Web.
There exist two types of IP addresses: static and dynamic. Both versions have specific roles. Both have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to choose the right type for your networking needs. This article will explain how they work and help you choose the right one for your needs.
What is a static IP address?
The word “static” means unchanging, and this is a good description of how a static IP address works. The static IP meaning refers to an IP address that is assigned to a device and remains constant, as opposed to a dynamic IP address that changes each time the device connects to the internet. Users assign them to individual devices or resources. The address then applies for as long as users desire.
Static IP address types are typically found in devices like web servers. This form of IP address is usually utilized by businesses that need to communicate globally and want a fixed identity.
Because they are finite and must be assigned individually, static addresses come with monthly fees. This is not the case with a dynamic IP address.
Benefits of static IP addresses
DNS functionality. Website managers need to couple IP addresses with DNS information. A static IP address provides a better fit for DNS servers because it never changes. The DNS server can connect consistently with the same static IP address, resulting in smoother operations.
Website hosting. A static IP address comes into its own when used with web servers. With a static address, site visitors will find it easier to locate a website on the internet. Connection speeds may also be slightly quicker. This can be an advantage in areas like finance where rapid transactions make a major difference.
Voice communication. Voice-over-IP (VoIP) works much better with static IP addresses. This benefits companies that rely on teleconferencing or any type of video transmission.
Remote access benefits. Static IPs make it possible to establish consistent connections between remote workers and central networks. Wherever employees need to work, they can use the same IP address. This identifies their devices to network servers – a simple remote work solution.
Reliable geolocation. Static addresses make it easier to identify where you are. This is a big advantage to any services that depend on geolocation, such as weather or traffic updates.
IP allowlisting. If remote workers have a static IP address, security teams can use that address to filter legitimate traffic. Allowlisting supplements firewalls and VPNs. It effectively hides network resources from outsiders whose IP is not allowlisted. As a result, it also promotes better data security.
How to set up static IP addresses
Users can easily set up a static IP address in Local Area Network by changing their network settings. However, you will need to request a static address from your ISP if you want to have fixed external IP.
After the request, external fixed IP will be assigned and the setup will automatically be applied on your router. If you manually configure the settings on your devices, you will need to enter the assigned IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS server information into the network settings for each device that will use the static IP address.
Alternatively, if you use a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol reservation, you can set up your router to assign the static IP address automatically to a specific device on your network. This method ensures that the device always receives the same IP address, even if it is restarted or disconnected from the network temporarily.
Note that this isn’t the same as configuring a private IP address that is reserved for use within a private network, such as a home or office network.
What is a dynamic IP address?
Dynamic IP addresses constantly change. The IP address is not connected to an individual user or company.
There is usually no financial charge for using a dynamic IP address. ISP servers assign them as needed. Using a dynamic IP address is generally cost-effective for service providers compared to assigning static addresses.
Dynamic IPs are the standard identifier for consumer devices. They are routinely used in home networks to identify tablets, laptops, and digital boxes. But a dynamic IP address is not always the best option for businesses, who may prefer an IP address that does not change.
Benefits of dynamic IP addresses
Cost. A dynamic IP address is usually cheaper to use than static alternatives. There is no regular fee. Addresses are assigned in the background as part of ISP packages.
Simple configuration. Users do not need to manually configure a dynamic IP address. The address changes without users knowing. DHCP will automatically switch addresses, leaving users with no additional admin tasks.
Fewer device conflicts. Static IPs can conflict if used for one or more devices. For example, you may add extra workstations to a corporate network. Dynamic addresses are unlimited and reusable. So any new devices will immediately gain unique identifiers.
Security benefits. Hackers may obtain static IPs and use them to breach network resources. Because a dynamic IP address changes regularly, it presents a moving target. This makes life harder for potential attackers, especially when combined with VPN protection.
Privacy. Static IPs provide constant evidence of your physical location. This can be useful for external snoopers and thieves. With a dynamic IP address, it’s harder to pin down your device location. This results in enhanced physical security.
How does it work?
When you receive a dynamic IP address, it is assigned by a system called Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).
ISP companies maintain reserves of unused IP addresses and assign users the next available IP address when they connect to the internet. The dynamic IP address is re-assigned to someone else when their session ends.
It’s important to remember that DHCP assigns dynamic addresses temporarily. Users “lease” the dynamic IP address on a short-term basis. The same IP address could be reused hundreds of times in a single day.
Dynamic addresses also present a different identity to the services you use. This can cause problems when websites expect a single IP address to identify users. Features like autofill passwords may not function correctly.
Comparison of static and dynamic IP addresses
Static IP address:
Has a higher maintenance cost
Used for handling lots of connections simultaneously
Helps to maintain uninterrupted access
Ensures availability for outside devices and networks
Dynamic IP address:
Is continuously rotated
Doesn't additionally increase the cost
Used for user devices like smartphones and laptops
Helps to maintain online access when changing networks
Ensures that all devices are always assigned an IP address
When comparing Static IP vs Dynamic IP addresses, it helps to keep their different features in mind. Here are some handy pros and cons of both IP address varieties:
Static IP pros
Geolocation – Static addresses work well with IP-based geolocation services. They are a good fit for users who need to be precisely located.
Voice-over-IP – Static IP is preferable for VoIP teleconferencing.
DNS hosting – Static addresses are a much better option for hosting DNS-based web assets. Website data will be available to users across the world, with minimal IP address conflict.
Security – Static addresses make allowlisting easier, boosting security. Users can route static VPN traffic through a single IP address, protecting traffic and enabling safe remote working.
Static IP cons
Hacking risks - Because they never change, static IPs can be prone to hijacks. And static addresses can give away geographical details to snoopers.
Ease of Use – Users must configure a static IP address manually after an initial request to their ISP.
Costs – Static IP addresses come with an extra charge, so tend to cost more.
Dynamic IP pros
Security – Constantly changing IP data makes hacking more difficult. IP address holders are also harder to track down via geolocation tools.
Costs – Dynamic IPs are generally free of charge for the duration of contracts from Internet Service Providers.
Ease of Use – Dynamic addresses require virtually no configuration, so are generally easier to use.
Dynamic IP cons
Reliability – Dynamic addresses can sometimes be unavailable. They do not function well with DNS servers, and they deliver less precise geolocation information.
VPN functionality – Virtual Private Networks work much better with static IPs, especially when applied to business settings.
Website issues - Using the web may be less convenient. For example, sites may fail to auto-fill fields if IP addresses constantly change.
When to use a static or dynamic IP address?
Comparing static IP vs dynamic IP addresses shows that the two IP address types have very different use cases.
When to use a static IP address
Static IP is generally preferred by businesses. Unchanging IP addresses are ideal for hosting websites because they suit DNS server architecture.
With a static IP, your web or email server will be easier to find. External partners can use a single point of contact to interact with servers or databases. And that address does not change unless you want it to.
If you are planning to connect an email server or are designing a remote work system, static IP addresses will probably work best.
It is also easier to apply IP allowlisting with a static IP address. Allowlisting adds an extra layer of network protection. Security teams can add static addresses to firewall rules, and block everything else. Remote workers can identify themselves easily. Wherever they are, the network will recognize them as authentic users.
Additionally, static addresses benefit users of critical SaaS applications. Companies benefit from more reliable VPN and Voice-over-IP services.
When to use a dynamic IP address
Dynamic IP is generally found in home and consumer settings. The low cost and convenience are a good fit for everyday device usage. Dynamic addresses also have a slight security edge for private settings and organizations that cannot invest in enterprise security solutions.
Some device types also tend to use dynamic IP for reasons of convenience. For instance, routers may not need a static address. Dynamic DHCP-assigned addresses can be cheaper and simpler to configure.
As IPv6 becomes mainstream, the cost of static IPs may come down. The stock of IP addresses has been limited by the Ipv4 format. In the future personal and business use of static IP addresses may well be routine.
How can Nordlayer help?
Choosing the right IP address format is an important part of network architecture. Businesses can optimize their web presence, improve app performance, and realize security benefits by applying static IPs.
However, these benefits require careful implementation. Nordlayer is ready to help companies as they secure their network assets.
Our dedicated IP services make it possible to conceal traffic and filter access requests. Assign a static IP to your VPN coverage, and block unauthorized traffic without denting network performance. Users can combine static IPs with network segmentation, access controls, DNS filtering, and many other security features.
With Nordlayer, you can build a user-friendly security architecture that makes life easy for authenticated users and blocks malicious traffic when connected to internet gateway. To find out more, contact the Nordlayer team today.