If you want to connect a device to the internet, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) needs to know where to send data to – that’s where an Internet Protocol (IP) address comes in.
An IP address is a unique number given to you by your broadband provider and works in a similar way to a home address or phone number – it informs the network where to send data.
There are two main types of IP address – static and dynamic – and they both have the same purpose. Usually you will have a dynamic IP, which means your unique number changes from time to time. It will have a lease term and when that expires you will be allocated a new IP address automatically. A static IP address, on the other hand, never changes and is assigned to your connection and computer alone.
Any device that uses an IP address, from routers, phones and tablets through to desktops and laptops, can have a static IP address.
Most of us know how to connect our phones, tablets and computers to the internet quite easily. But there is a whole host of activities going on in the background that allow us to use the internet so effortlessly nowadays.
IP addresses are a big part of how our devices actually receive the data needed to use the web. A useful type of IP address is static – which has proven to be a useful tool for businesses. But what actually is a static IP and why should you consider getting one?
For those using the internet at home, a dynamic IP address is fine for most internet activities such as browsing the web, streaming TV and movies, online gaming and much more. But, for a business, a static IP could be very beneficial. Here are some of the advantages of having this type of IP address:
With a static IP, it is much easier to access your computer, wherever you are. This means you can access files, use your computer’s programmes, and change your settings, even if you’re not in the same room as your PC. This could make working from home much easier.
If you wanted to host your own website, instead of using somebody else’s server to do this, you would need a static IP. Without one, it would be difficult for people to reach your website as your IP address would constantly change and so the network wouldn’t be able to find the site you are hosting.
To run a server, you would also need a static IP. Again, if you were using a dynamic IP, devices wouldn’t be able to connect to, or find, your server because its IP address would be changing all the time.
You can set up an email server using a static IP, so you have more control. This also allows you to set up business email accounts with ease.
Typically, a static IP address is better for online security – it provides an extra layer of protection. Because the number is unique only to you, it makes it more difficult for others to access your CCTV information, unless you permit it.
It will also provide you with access to your security cameras, wherever you are in the world, similar to how you can access your computer remotely. A static IP is a much more stable network than a dynamic IP, so you will have fewer issues connecting to, and monitoring, your CCTV cameras.
Voice over IP (VoIP) is used to make calls through the internet instead of using a phone. Online services like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facetime and WhatsApp use VoIP to make calls, and are a vital way of communicating, especially for businesses and people working from home.
Although you can use these services with a dynamic IP, a static IP would improve the quality of calls. Using a static IP address would also make using these types of calls more reliable.
There’s no denying that a static IP has a lot to offer businesses. But, there are still some disadvantages.
Because of the added benefits of having a static IP, they come at an extra cost. But, if you’re purchasing a business broadband deal, some service providers may give you a static IP address included in your package.
Instead of plugging in your router and using the internet instantly like you can with a dynamic IP, you would need to take some extra steps. You need to set up your device with an IP address and then configure the router, so it works with your unique number.
Having an IP address that always stays the same means you are at risk of people being able to find where you and your device are. A dynamic IP, on the other hand, is always changing, which makes it much harder to decipher your location. If this is a concern, you could mask your location by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Most internet providers only issue a static IP address to business customers, so if you have home broadband it may be difficult to obtain one. For businesses, if you are searching for a new broadband deal, you may be able to get one already included in your package.
If not, simply contact your internet provider and request a static IP. The Uswitch business broadband comparison site can help you find the right package for you and options for getting a static IP.
If your current ISP is unable to assign you a static IP address, and you don’t want to switch providers, a Dynamic Domain Name System (DDNS) could be another option for you. In short, a DDNS service creates a permanent name of an IP address. It’s similar to the Domain Name System (DNS), which requires a static IP, and basically converts websites into IP addresses, which are an important part of browsing the web.
To put it simply, if you were to host a website, a computer will be used as a server. The IP address of this server is what will enable people to find your site. However, if you had a dynamic IP, the address would change frequently, and so visitors would not be able to reach the server hosting the site, because its address has changed.
With DDNS, you sign up with a dynamic DNS provider and install the relevant software on the computer being used as the server host. This device is the one that visitors will reach when they request your server, which is needed to access the website you are hosting. Now, every time the IP address changes, this software will work in the background to update your DDNS provider with the most up-to-date address. So, no matter how many times your IP changes, your site is always reachable.