What is a static IP address? Dynamic? Know which one you’re using.

Your one-lane highway

Riddle me this: When is static a good thing to have? It doesn’t make listening to the radio or watching TV any easier. It ruins phone calls and can drop your Wi-Fi connection. But what if I told you that static could also make your website faster, rank higher on search engines, and make it easier to access your site? The kind of static I’m talking about of course is a static IP. What is a static IP address, you ask? Let’s investigate.

What is an IP address?

First of all, to understand what a static IP is, we have to make sure we know what an IP address is in general.

An IP is a short name for “Internet Protocol.”

 

In common English, an IP is the “street address” for a server, computer or device on the internet. IPs are made up of four “octets,” and each octet is a number between 1 and 256. Between each octet is a period. For example, an IP address looks like this: 12.34.56.789. “12” is an octet, “34” is an octet, and so on.

With this pattern, it’s possible to have 4,294,967,296 unique IP addresses! Everything that can connect to the internet has an IP address. Your phone, your tablet, your modem, your Nintendo Switch and more. There are a few different primary types of IPs, but today we’re going to focus just on two: static and dynamic.

What is a static IP address? How is it different from a dynamic IP?

Put simply, a dynamic IP is one that changes from time to time. You usually find dynamic IPs with larger companies or with servers that receive a lot of traffic. A dynamic IP changes per the needs of the server, which can be helpful in load-balancing situations. Computers have multiple different IPs to contact the server, which is a lot like having multiple lanes on a freeway to help accommodate more traffic going through it.

A static IP is the opposite: it’s one IP assigned to a device that never changes.

But wait, if having multiple lanes of traffic can unclog a freeway, what’s the benefit of having only one lane? Imagine if there was a lane on that freeway that led directly to your house. The only people who would use that lane would be people who specifically want to come to you, and there would be no outside traffic to interfere with their journey.

A static IP gives you your very own traffic lane that leads directly to your website.

 

It often makes your site load faster as a result. Since the IP doesn’t change, it is also essential for VPNs, setting up remote access and online gaming.

What Is Static IP Address Constant
Here is a sample of a static IP address.

Now that you know the difference and the benefits of each kind of IP, how do you know which one you have? The easiest way to check is to view your DNS zone file. If your A record points to a visible and discernable IP address, that most likely means it is static. If you see something along the lines of a * or a template name such as “Forwarding,” chances are you have a dynamic IP.

What Is A Static IP Address Dynamic IP
Here is an example of a dynamic IP address — notice how it’s missing a set string of numbers.

If you are a GoDaddy customer, here’s a quick guide:

  • Domain Forwarding and GoDaddy GoCentral plans all use a dynamic IP to assist with load balancing and minimize latency on your site.
  • Hosting and most Dedicated Servers use a static IP.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If you still aren’t sure what kind of IP you have, call your provider. They’ll be able to lead you to IP greatness!


Also published on Medium.

Erik Wong
Erik Wong is a small business/tech consultant for GoDaddy and a freelance pop-culture writer. He has written a regular column for a current events blog, and his commentary has been featured on realclearpolitics.com.