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Internet protocol addresses are crucial to how the internet functions. Every device connected to the internet has to have one, otherwise, users would never be able to find the content they were looking for. When you search for something on the internet, a lot of things are happening behind the scenes.
Servers must find the information you’re looking for by locating the IP address that holds that information. Then, that information must be sent back to you by using the computer’s unique IP address.
While IP addresses are associated with every device that connects to the internet, not all devices receive them in the same manner. There are two key types of IP addresses, and they’re differentiated in how they operate and how computers receive them.
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What is a DHCP IP Address?
Dynamic host configuration protocol, DHCP, is a means of assigning IP address and other information to a computer—or anything device that needs to connect to the network. If your computer uses this protocol to receive an address, every time that it connects to the internet, it’ll receive a new address.
Within the DHCP, three key parts make up the protocol. First, there is the DHCP client. The client can be any device that needs to connect to the network such as a smartphone or a laptop. Next, there is the DHCP server. The server is the piece of the puzzle that assigns IP addresses to the devices, or the client.
When a device attempts to connect to the network, the DHCP server assigns it an IP address. Depending on how a network is set up, an IP address may expire after some time due to what’s known as a DHCP lease. When the DHCP lease expires, if that device hasn’t renewed its lease, it won’t be able to access the network.
In most network systems, devices will automatically receive new leases and new IP addresses to continue connectivity. However, in cases such as connecting to limited public WIFI, you may only get a lease for thirty minutes to an hour for free. After your initial lease has terminated, you’ll have to sign up for another. This is how many public places operate their public WiFi.
The attractive part of the protocol is that it’s automatic— there is nothing required by the network owner who configured the settings, and sometimes, nothing is required of the device owner. Furthermore, it can be configured like the example above where clients must sign in to receive a DHCP lease.
DHCP is widely used thanks to its ability to update IP information quickly and automatically in the network.
What is a Static IP Address?
A static IP address is as it sounds—static, unchanging, or fixed. If your computer has been assigned a static internet protocol address by a network, that address will never change. Most often, internet service providers, or ISPs, assign these addresses.
Within the umbrella of static IP addresses, there are two options—IPv4 and IPv6. The key difference between these two is the size of the IP address. IPv4 is an older version that uses 32-bit addresses whereas IPv6 is a 128-bit address. IPv6 was created to manage the large demand for unique IP addresses.
Most often, devices like servers that host websites will have static IP addresses. Additionally, the best VPS hosts will assign static IP addresses to the websites it hosts, so they can be found easily by requesting devices.
Static IP addresses are favorites of people who perform advanced networking tasks at home or for projects. In tasks where a user wants to access a device remotely, they have to know the IP address. If the IP address was frequently changing—like with DHCP addresses—it’d be impossible to perform such a task as accessing your computer from a different location.
Static IP Address Benefits
Static IP addresses may not be the most common, but they have their benefits. It’s arguable that static IP addresses provide better security than DHCP when network security issues arise. What’s more, websites that use static IP addresses have better name resolution as their location never changes.
Plus, as already mentioned, when you use a static IP address, you can remotely access your computer—as long as the device remains connected to the internet.
Which Type of IP Address is Better?
There is no way to say that a DHCP IP address is better than a static one. The two are different and serve different purposes. If you want to be able to remotely access a computer, you’ll need a static IP address for that computer. However, if you’re not confident about what you’re doing or you don’t know IP addresses well, you may run into network errors.
As a network administrator who is trying to assign IP addresses to devices, it’s much easier to use DHCP. Any business that expects many clients to use their WIFI will greatly benefit from DHCP.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a website owner, it’s handy to understand how your website is found—through IP addresses. More so, if you’re looking for hosting, you may want to be aware of how your hosting provider assigns an IP address to your website.
With most WordPress hosting providers and other types of shared hosting services, your website will likely share one IP address with other websites. This is true with hosting providers like Kinsta that offer shared hosting.
If you want a unique static IP address for your website, your best option is to go with dedicated hosting. Within the category of dedicated hosting, Siteground offers the best support, uptime, and reliability for your website.