Static vs Dynamic IP Address

Image of servers interconnected.
Static or dynamic (IP address)? That is the question!

Most people are familiar with Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses. But many people don’t know that you have 2 IP address types: static and dynamic. Static IPs are less common than dynamic ones, but they each have unique advantages and disadvantages. 

If I’ve got your attention, read on! In this article, you’ll learn what an IP is, the differences between the 2 types, and what they do. I’ll also cover the pros and cons and touch on IPs and security. Let’s go!

What Is an IP Address?

An IP address is a 32-bit number that identifies hosts, network interfaces, and various locations within a network. It consists of 4 numbers that range from 0 to 255 and follow a decimal notation. For example, an IP address could look like this: 42.220.89.154

Fun fact: about 4.3 billion unique IP addresses exist 

An IP address is like your home address. You give your address to people, and they can send you letters. In the same way, your IP identifies your computer. But that comes with a caveat: you won’t have the same IP address at all times. Why? Because your IP is dynamic, and your Internet Service Provider (ISP) determines which IP to give you and when. To have a permanent address, you need a static IP. Let’s look at what that is.

What Is a Static IP Address?

A static IP address is an IP address that doesn’t change. Businesses and large enterprises want static IPs to make networking easier. A business would usually be the main entity to get a static IP. However, this IP type doesn’t change anything on an operational basis.

That said, getting a static IP isn’t like getting a customized license plate on your car. To obtain one, you have to pay your ISP, and you may not even be able to choose the actual numbers.   

How Does a Static IP Address Work?

It’s a one-step process. All you need is to contact your ISP and request a static IP. Once you get your IP, it remains the same forever unless you go through the manual process to change it, which is long and hard. It’s also possible to make mistakes, such as a typo, and mess things up; but generally, it’s a simple process.

Businesses or IT professionals typically use static IP addresses for networking purposes.  So, what pros and cons should you consider before asking for a static IP?

Pros

  • IP address doesn’t change. You can use it to connect to other devices via your network
  • Static IPs can connect to a node regardless of name resolution 
  • Admins have strong control over all IDs
  • Network resource mapping is possible

Cons

  • It can take a long time to ensure the IP is free for assignment
  • You can make mistakes—like typos  
  • Admins must ensure they didn’t create a duplicate address 

What Is a Dynamic IP Address?

Your device receives a dynamic IP address from the pool of other rotating IP addresses each time it joins the network. Depending on your ISP, your IP address could change each time your computer is detected on the network or every few days, weeks, or months. So how does it work?

How Does a Dynamic IP Address Work?

As the adage goes, “need is the mother of invention”. The reason for dynamic addresses today is due to need. When IP addresses were first invented, it wasn’t evident that the world would need an unlimited amount.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) was created to fix the problem. It allows for IP addresses to be pooled and then assigned to different devices. When a computer connects to the internet, the ISP assigns it an IP. When it disconnects, the assigned IP goes back into the pool of IP addresses and is reassigned to another computer. 

Let’s now look at the advantages and disadvantages of dynamic IPs.

Pros 

  • Servers don’t make typos
  • Reduces number of duplicate IPs 
  • IP address change is quick
  • Network nodes are easy to identify

Cons

  • Networks cannot be mapped
  • Network nodes are hard to identify 
  • Less reliable for VPNs and VoIP

Dynamic IPs solve the issue that we’re limited to about 4.3 billion unique IP addresses. That’s not enough to go around in the modern world. So, by sharing them through dynamic IPs, we’ve put a band-aid on the issue. 

Now you know what the pros and cons of static and dynamic IPs are, so let’s compare the 2 and learn what use case best fits each IP type.

Image of abstract art, data as ones and zeros flows toward the horizon inside of a machine.
You need an IP address if you want to connect to the internet.

Static vs Dynamic IP Address

I’ve created the following comparison table to help you decide if you need a static IP or can work with the dynamic one.

Comparison ItemStaticDynamic
ProviderISP Dynamic Configuration Host Protocol 
Does the IP change?NoYes
Primary UseBusinessHome
SecurityLess secure More secure
Designation Hard to assign and reassign Easy to assign and reassign
Device TrackingYesYes, but very difficult 
Availability/Stability Very stableLess stable 
CostHigher associated costsLower associated costs
Use static IP for networking.

It’s clear that static and dynamic IPs have different use cases. So how can you decide which to use?

Most dynamic IPs will be for home users. In this use-case, knowing the IP address isn’t important, so if it changes, it won’t affect you. Static IP addresses are best for businesses or IT professionals who need to know their IPs to allow for networking.

The Bottom Line

IP addresses come in two forms: static and dynamic. You learned the differences between them, how they operate, and what the advantages and disadvantages of each are. Static IPs remain fixed, while dynamic IPs are returned to a pool of IPs and are reassigned to other computers. You also learned about the most common use-case for each of the IP address types. Dynamic IPs are suitable for home users. Static IPs are better for businesses and IT professionals as these users need to know their IPs to allow for networking.

Have more questions about static vs dynamic IPs or want additional resources? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!

FAQ

How to find your IP?

You can find your IP address in a few ways. One way is to go to your networking settings and click preferences on Windows. You can also use the IPConfig command on macOS in a terminal. But the easiest way to find your IP is to go to Google and type in “What is my IP”, which will return your public IP address.

Can two IP addresses be the same?

Yes, they can. But this can cause problems when you try to connect to one device and not the other. Why is this? Each device has its own MAC address to determine the true ID of the machine. You can have the same IP assigned to two different devices. However, this isn’t recommended because of the MAC address. You’ll have problems if you duplicate an IP

What can’t be an IP address?

IP addresses have numbers ranging from 0 to 255. It can’t look like 0.0.0.0 or 255.255.255.255. In 32-bit addressing, you have four numbers called octets, and their maximum value is 255. That’s why only about 4.3 billion combinations of 32-bit IP addresses exist. 

Who is in charge of IP addresses?

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is the organization with the power to manage IP addresses, domain names, protocol assignments, time-zone databases, and language subtag directories. The US Government founded IANA and its office is located in California. 

How much does a static IP cost?

The cost of a static IP varies depending on your ISP. But they start at $10 per month and go up to $100+ per month, depending on your provider. Static IPs aren’t cheap, which is why static IPs are mostly for businesses

Resources 

TechGenix: Article on IP Address Management

Learn about the best practices in IP address management. 

TechGenix: Article on IP address and security 

Check out the risks associated with your IP address

TechGenix: Article on Static IP Address Pool for VMM

Learn how to obtain a static IP address for a virtual machine

TechGenix: Article on PowerShell to Find Your VMs IP Address

Learn how to use PowerShell to find your VMs’ IP addresses

Microsoft: Guide on Static IP Address Setup

Use Microsoft’s tool to set up a pool of static IPs in VMM

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