Everyone has an IP address, or an Internet Protocol address, it’s essentially the way you are identified online by the websites you visit. If you type in Money.co.uk, for example, the connection is made possible because Money’s IP address and your IP address can connect to one another. Think of it as your digital home address —in the same way you can’t receive letters from the Post Office without a set address, you can’t use email (or do much else) without an IP address. If you have a static IP address it will never change — every time you boot up your device and get online, your IP will be the same.
Chances are, if you’re just using your home broadband for social media, streaming and the odd email, you don’t have a static IP address. The default type of IP address is called a dynamic IP address. This is because it changes every time you log onto the internet – why?
The most commonly cited reason is simply efficiency. Your internet provider is responsible for assigning IP addresses. By allowing these to change and be randomised with every log-in on your end, it cuts out a lot of admin on their behalf. After all, it makes very little difference to you what IP address you have if you’re simply browsing casually.
You can find your IP address by using a site such as WhatIsMyIPAddress.com or WhatsMyIP.org, you could also just ask Google! Try it every time you turn your device on and get online and you’ll see what we mean by a changing IP address. If you have a static IP address, this will never change.
A static address can come in two forms:
Public static IP address: this is visible to anyone and what would be used for a website
Private static IP address: this would be used for private internal servers like an inhouse network for printers, scanners etc.
Static IP addresses are of greatest benefit to businesses for the following reasons:
If you’re big into file sharing, a static IP address will let you create your own server. This gives a much more reliable and stable connection for storing and sharing important documents with colleagues.
IP addresses are unique to your device, so if you know the address of your computer, you can connect to it anywhere. This may be a vital tool for fast-paced businesses.
Especially important for online businesses, a static IP address will let you host your own website rather than pay for a third-party host – this gives you more control and less admin.
For freelancers that are completely digital, clients may insist on a static IP address for their own security. Developers, for example, may not be authorised to work outside of the client server until they can prove they have a static IP address.
If you need your digital presence to be tied to your physical location (this is ideal for businesses when they want to appear on Google Maps, for example) a static IP address is ideal.
Yes, essentially there is no difference in the basic security of a static IP address vs a dynamic IP address, but security issues come in when you consider accessibility. A dynamic IP address is changing all the time, so you cannot be locked down to one location quite as easily.
Your static IP is the same and provides access to your PC for remote working, servers for files, and other activities. The right person with the right skills and wrong intent could get a hold of all of this more easily than they would with a dynamic IP address. So, if you do go for static IP addresses, you need to make sure your security is up to scratch.
You can keep your IP address secure – whether dynamic or static – by using a VPN. This masks your IP address so you are essentially anonymous online. VPNs are useful for other reasons too, stopping internet cookies from tracking your activity or getting you around location blocks on streaming and content sites.
If you’re a business, talk to your current provider. Many business broadband plans come with a static IP as standard, or will arrange for one at a discounted rate. Here is what several major business broadband suppliers currently offer:
A BT static IP address is provided for free to customers of the majority of BT Business broadband plans. Otherwise, they are charged at a small monthly fee. BT allows for multiple static IP addresses under one business account.
Virgin Media static IP addresses are offered on three of its four business broadband options, allowing up to 5 static IPs in total. You can also choose to have a dynamic IP if you prefer.
Plusnet Business accounts are assigned a static IP address as standard.
TalkTalk Business lets customers have up to four static IP addresses at a very small fee per month.
You can’t set a static IP address unless your internet provider has enabled it. You may need to move over to a business broadband plan, others may let you have one even on your home broadband deal. You can configure your static IP address from your router.
If you want a static private IP address (not one for use online publically, just for your own internal network) you can do this from your Windows PC:
Go to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network Connections
You’ll be presented with Wi-Fi or Ethernet options, choose the one you use to get online
Your Local Area Connection Properties window should open
Click Internet Protocol Version 4
Select “use the following IP address” and enter your address of choice
If you do not have admin rights you will not be able to complete these steps. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, get in touch with your broadband provider, business broadband customer services are usually available 24/7.
If you are a business, then it is highly advised that you get a static IP address. It may make very little difference to you, but when you call in contractors to help you build your online presence like a website, internal network or even set up CCTV, they will expect this to be in place.
If you are a casual home user, you don’t really need to be concerned with static IP addresses, you’ll be able to go about your usual browsing with a standard dynamic address.