What is an IP address?The internet is made up of computers exchanging information with each other using a common language known as the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP). In order for the computers or devices to talk to each other they need addresses, which are a string of numbers known as an Internet Protocol or IP address. The type of IP address you’re probably familiar with is known as IPv4, and is made up of 32 bits, usually in a format like 188.8.131.52. The number of addresses under this system is limited to 4.3 billion possible mathematical combinations – which might sound a lot, but every single device that connects to the internet needs its own IP address (such as smartphones, gaming systems and satnavs). This is why static IP addresses aren’t offered as standard by many internet providers and are usually only provided with premium internet connections.
The difference between static and dynamic IP addressesThe majority of consumers connecting to the internet will be using a dynamic IP address (i.e one that changes every time they connect). This means that IP addresses can be reused or allocated to large groups of people, solving the IP address scarcity problem. However, for businesses requiring more advanced internet features, an unchanging, static IP address is usually necessary.
You’ll need a static IP if you want to…
Host your own File or FTP server If your business often needs to receive large files then you’ll probably be investigating setting up your own FTP server so people can send you files. If so, you’ll benefit from having your own static IP address so that your suppliers, clients or anyone else can reliably connect to your server.
Host your own website or domain name server To ensure your website is able to respond to queries for your domain name, it will need to be associated with your static IP address. Your domain name is what your customers will enter into a browser, or Google will come up with, when trying to access your website.
Use other servers or equipment Most software that other companies connect to online will benefit from a static IP address, as it makes connecting to and testing over the internet much easier. Other examples where you may want a static IP address include:
- email or chat servers
- important servers, such as backup web servers
- database servers
- network equipment
- VPN (Virtual Private Network) equipment, which allows people to remotely access applications