What is a Static IP? Do You Need One for Your Business?
Hint: Web Servers and Email Servers Must Maintain Static IPs
While setting up your office network, you may have stumbled upon two different types of IP addresses: static and dynamic. Once assigned to a device, a static IP remains constant, allowing other devices to identify it upon connection. There’s a monthly charge for a static IP, and only certain types of businesses need them. For most companies, a dynamic IP is fine.
What Is an IP Address?
Each device on a network has a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. Just as buildings have street addresses, an IP allows devices to locate and identity one another.
Dynamic IP vs Static IP
Dynamic IPs are assigned by the network to the device upon connection, and the device receives a new dynamic IP address every time it connects. The network maintains a pool of available addresses and essentially rolls a dice to determine which address to assign at any given time.
In contrast, when a device is assigned a static IP address, that address is there to stay. Web servers and mail servers must maintain static IPs in order to provide users with access when connecting from the internet.
How Do I Get a Static IP?
When you sign up for internet service, you have the option to forego static IPs and go with the default dynamic IP system. You can also choose to have one static IP for a specific server, or multiple static IPs for multiple servers. Your internet service provider will show you how many static IPs you can choose when you register for service. If you do choose to have one or more static IPs, they will be assigned to your devices upon installation and activation of your internet service. Some internet service providers may require you to use your own router to set up multiple static IPs for your business.
Do I Need a Static IP?
Most businesses operate smoothly using only dynamic IP addresses. The type of IP address assigned to your device will not affect basic internet services such as email, video conferencing, streaming, and browsing. However, certain situations may require that your devices have a static IP:
- You run a private web server or email server that requires users to connect from the network.
- You use devices that can only connect to your network through its IP address. These devices may fail to connect or will need to be reconfigured if the target device's IP changes.
- You use remote networking services such as VPN to connect to computers off-site.
If you're still unsure about whether your business needs static or dynamic IPs, contact your local ISP or IT professional. Most internet providers allow you to add or remove static IPs from your account at any time, so there’s little risk in assigning a couple to your servers. As your company evolves, you will get a clearer picture of your static and dynamic IP needs.