An IP address identifies specific internet connections or website addresses. You’re able to view this article because the Money.co.uk website’s Internet Protocol (IP) address and your device’s IP address can identify and connect to each other. Just as you can’t receive letters from the Post Office without a fixed address, many online services are only accessible with a valid IP address. IP addresses normally fluctuate without any discernible difference in network access or performance. However, a static IP address will never change — every time you boot up your device and establish an internet connection, the IP will be the same.
The default type of IP address is called dynamic because it changes every time you log onto the internet. The most commonly cited reason for this involves efficiency – every internet service provider (ISP) is responsible for assigning IP addresses. By allowing these randomly in response to every consumer log-in, it cuts out a lot of admin from the ISP’s perspective without materially affecting the user experience.
You can find your IP address by using a site such as WhatIsMyIPAddress.com or WhatsMyIP.org, or simply by asking Google. A dynamic IP address will deliver a different result every time you go online, whereas a static IP address will never change.
A static address can come in two forms:
Public static IP addresses are visible to anyone, such as the ones used by a website
Private static IP addresses are used for private internal servers, like a local area network for printers and scanners.
Static IP addresses tend to offer the greatest benefits to commercial clients:
A static IP address will let you create your own server, which provides a more reliable and stable connection for storing and sharing important documents and large files 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 vital for fast-paced businesses, or firms whose staff regularly work remotely (as an increasing number of employees do after the events of 2020).
A static IP address will let any online business host its own website rather than paying for a third-party host – this provides more control, and reduces admin levels.
Some digital technology or media clients may insist on a static IP address for their own security. Developers may not be authorised to work outside a 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, a static IP address is ideal. This can suit small businesses when they want to appear on Google Maps, for example.
There is no difference in the basic security of static and dynamic IP addresses, but security issues begin to arise when you consider accessibility. A dynamic IP address is changing all the time, so you can’t be pinned down to one location as easily.
Your static IP remains the same, providing access to your PC for remote working, file server access and other activities. With the right skills and the wrong intent, a malicious agent could acquire these details more easily than a dynamic IP address. Consequently, adopting static IP addresses means your security must be up to scratch.
Irrespective of whether it’s dynamic or static, you can keep your IP address secure by using a VPN. This masks IP addresses to deliver anonymity online. VPNs are also useful for stopping internet cookies from tracking your activity, or circumventing location blocks on streaming and content sites, which might prevent you enjoying content simply because of where you are on a given day.
Business owners should talk to their current ISP, since many business broadband plans provide a static IP as standard, or as a no-cost option:
A static IP address is provided for free through most BT Business broadband plans, with remaining plans levied at a small monthly fee. BT allows for multiple static IP addresses under one business account, and you can remove static IP addresses if they’re no longer needed or required.
Static IP addresses are optional on every Plusnet Business broadband package.
TalkTalk Business lets customers choose between dynamic or static IPs free of charge.
Virgin Media offers static IP addresses as an option on three of its four business broadband options, with its Voom Fibre 3 and Voom 500 packages supporting up to five static IPs. You can also choose dynamic IPs on any package, though they’re compulsory on the entry-level Voom Fibre 1 package.
You can’t set a static IP address unless your ISP has enabled it. You may need to move over to a business broadband plan, while it might be possible to request one on a broadband deal. A static IP address can be configured through your router if the option is available.
If you want a private static IP address for an internal network, this can be accomplished through any 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 the IP address of choice.
It won’t be possible to complete these steps without administrator privileges. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, get in touch with your ISP and ask for technical assistance.
A static IP address is strongly recommended for businesses. Despite having a negligible impact on daily business operations, it’ll be expected when contractors are trying to build an online presence like an internal network or a CCTV system. However, domestic users will be perfectly well serviced with a standard dynamic IP address.
Last updated: 9 December 2020