Static IP vs dynamic IP: What’s the difference?

Both are gateways to the internet, but is one better than the other?

IP addresses on a screen with an ethernet cable in front

By 2027, 41 billion IoT devices will be installed worldwide — up from 17.1 billion in 2016. Former Cisco researcher David Evans sheds light on how inclusive internet-connected devices have already become.

“Every second, according to my calculations, an average 127 new things are connected to the Internet. At this rate, 328 million things are being connected every month, approximately one for each person in the U.S.,” according to Evans.

It’s no longer just computers and phones. From smart home appliances to wearables and perhaps even your coffee maker, the IoT world extends well beyond the conventional. Similarly, 70% of automobiles will connect to the internet by 2023. 

With so many devices creating a massive web of connections over the internet, one has to wonder how devices “talk” to one another? More precisely, how does any device communicate with the internet? 

IP address: The language of the internet 

Much like a Social Security number distinguishes people in the US, an internet protocol (lP) address distinguishes one machine from another on the internet. Every device on a transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP) network needs an IP address to send or receive data via the network. 

TCP/IP is a widely adopted networking standard for exchanging messages over the internet.

As a general rule, IP addresses are always written and displayed as a combination of numbers and periods. For example, 180.151.119.202 is an IP address corresponding to internet protocol version 4 (IPv4)

A human-friendly representation of an IP address is a domain name. They’re easy to remember and unique to each website. For example, the domain name for Amazon is “amazon.com.”

It’s the network administrator’s job to assign IP addresses to network devices and, depending on network requirements, they can assign a static or dynamic IP address. 

Through this guide, we’ll explain the differences between static and dynamic IP addresses and where each is applicable.

What is a static IP address? 

True to its name, a static IP address doesn’t change. It can remain the same for weeks, months, and even years. 

Due to their unchanging nature, businesses offering dedicated internet services, such as web hosting, prefer static IPs. Internet service providers (ISP) assign them manually. 

Pros

  • Ideal for hosting computer servers
  • Facilitates faster data exchange 
  • Supports remote desktop access

Cons

  • Difficult to set up and manage 
  • More prone to hacking 
  • Comes with an additional fee

What is a dynamic IP address? 

A dynamic IP address is temporary and may change when you reboot your system or the router. ISPs assign dynamic IP addresses as needed via a dynamic host configuration protocol server (DHCP server)

Most machines have dynamic addresses, as they’re economical and secure. When a dynamic address is not in use, an ISP assigns it to a different device. 

Pros

  • Automatically configured; requires no additional setup
  • Less prone to hacking
  • Cost-effective

Cons

  • Makes it nearly impossible to set up remote access 
  • Can cause downtime when disconnected
  • Affects performance of geolocation services

Static IP vs Dynamic IP: Which is better?

Static IP addresses can do wonders for businesses that require unwavering uptime. They’re particularly beneficial for organizations hosting websites and servers. Static IPs’ other hard-to-overlook capabilities include reliable internet connection, faster data exchange, and convenient remote access. 

Be that as it may, static IP addresses still present challenges that can quickly become security bottlenecks. For example, it is easier to track devices with static IP addresses, making them a prime hacking target. 

A virtual private network (VPN) can alleviate static IPs’ safety concerns. Besides hiding your IP address, a VPN encrypts online traffic and communication, ensuring your digital footprints are untraceable.

Dynamic addresses change periodically, making them naturally harder to trace. However, keep in mind that the DHCR server failure can cause networkwide downtime. By and far, dynamic IPs are best suited for local networks and home users, as they feature much-needed security at an affordable price.

In short, static IP addresses are more reliable than dynamic IP addresses but sacrifice affordability and security. Unless you’re dealing with large volumes of data or work remotely, a dynamic IP address is the way to go.

How to check if you have a static or dynamic IP

Whether you are using Windows or Mac, it only takes a few clicks to determine your IP address. 

Following these instructions to trace your IP address on Windows 10: 

  1. Right-click on the “Start” button 
  2. Type “Command Prompt” in the search bar and press enter
  3. Click “Command Prompt”
  4. Type “ipconfig/all” in the Command Prompt window and press “Enter”
  5. In the list of network information displayed, look for “DHCP Enabled” 

If it says “Yes” next to “DHCP Enabled,” your system has a dynamic IP address. If it says “No,” your device has a static IP address.

To verify your IP address on macOS:

  1. Click the “System Preferences” icon in the Dock or choose Apple menu > System Preferences
  2. Select the “Network” option
  3. Go to Advanced > TCP/IP

If you see “Using DHCP” next to “Configure IPv4,” then your system uses a dynamic IP address. If the section says “Manually,” you have a static IP.

Alternatively, you can always contact your ISP to learn more about your network type and IP address.

Protect your IP from identity thefts, hackers, and prying eyes

IP addresses are akin to the return addresses on traditional mail. Bad actors can use your IP address to trace your location with surprising accuracy, gain access to your browsing history, passwords, and more. 

To steer clear from cyber attacks, keep your antivirus software up to date and change the router’s default password. The default router password the ISP or manufacturer set is the same for all users with the same router, and hackers can easily search them online. Additionally, use a firewall to restrict unauthorized access. 

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