Static (dedicated) vs. dynamic IP: What’s the difference?

A string of numbers.

You’ve probably heard of IP addresses and are aware they’re used to identify you on the internet. But there are different types of IP addresses, and one of those differences is between dynamic and static IP.

We’ll explain the difference, which can help you determine which kind you should use.

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About IP addresses: What it is and how it works

An IP address is a unique series of numbers that identifies each device on a local network or the internet. There are different kinds of IP addresses:

IP addresses are categorized as private or public. A private IP address is assigned to your device to communicate with others within your internal network and isn’t seen outside of it. Your public IP address—assigned by your ISP (internet service provider)—identifies you on the internet so that other devices can communicate with you.

A public IP address can be further described as dynamic or static. As their names suggest, a dynamic IP address is one that changes regularly, while a static IP address is one that remains constant.

What is a dynamic IP address?

A dynamic IP address changes automatically and regularly—most commonly every 24 hours or after a router reset. As IP addresses aren’t unlimited, dynamic IP addresses get reused by other users of the same ISP.

Dynamic IP address examples

If you’re using a personal or home network, you likely have a dynamic IP address, since it is the standard used for most internet connections.

What is a static (dedicated) IP address?

A static IP address, also called a dedicated IP address, doesn’t change and remains consistent. This means whenever you connect to the internet after disconnecting, you’ll get the same IP address.

Static IP address examples

Static IP addresses are generally used for more advanced setups, like hosting a website at home and forwarding ports to a specific device. DNS servers also use static IP addresses—so devices know how to connect to them when looking up domain names online.

What are the pros and cons of dynamic and static IP addresses?

Both dynamic and static IP addresses have their strengths and weaknesses. In fact, this depends on whether they’re looked at from the viewpoint of a consumer, business owner, or an internet service provider.

Pros and cons of dynamic IP addresses

Pros:

  • For consumers, it’s much safer to use a dynamic IP address. It’s harder for others to target your network or to track you as you browse the internet. You also don’t need to pay extra to your ISP.
  • For your ISP, it’s more cost-effective to use dynamic IP addresses—which can get reused again and again—without needing to purchase more.

Cons:

  • Dynamic IP addresses don’t work well for hosted services because most DNS can’t locate an ever-changing IP address.
  • Remote access is limited, as a network using a dynamic address can’t be accessed outside of it.

Pros and cons of static IP addresses

Pros:

  • If you’re hosting a server (e.g., web server or email server), it’s faster for your clients to get to your websites and services.
  • Static IP addresses offer a more reliable communication for teleconferencing or other voice and video communications using voice over internet protocol (VoIP).

Cons:

  • It costs more to use a static IP address, whether you’re a business owner or consumer.
  • You’re more vulnerable to attacks, as your IP address doesn’t change—making your server or data more trackable.

Similarities between static and dynamic IP addresses

Both static and dynamic IP addresses are unique strings of numbers used to identify you on the internet. In fact, they are both public IP addresses—as opposed to private IP addresses which are only used within your internal network.

Does my public IP address travel with me?

You won’t always have the same public IP address on your device. Your public IP address is associated with the network you’re connected to on your device—so it changes whenever you switch over to a different network.

Should I use a dynamic or static IP address?

Quick answer: Dynamic IP addresses are more suitable for personal use. In some cases, static IP addresses are more suitable if you need constant access to remote devices or host your own servers for your business.

How to check if you have a static or dynamic IP address

If you’re not paying extra for a static IP address, you can pretty much assume you have a dynamic IP address. But there are ways to check.

Windows

These steps are applicable to Windows 10 and should work similarly for other Windows versions.

  1. Right-click the Start button.
  2. Type Command Prompt, then press enter.
  3. Click Command Prompt.
  4. Type ipconfig /all, then press enter.
  5. Look for DHCP Enabled. If it says “Yes,” you have a dynamic IP address. It if says “No,” you have a static IP address.

Mac

  1. Click the Apple icon > System Preferences…
  2. Click Network > Advanced…
  3. Click TCP/IP.
  4. Look for Configure IPv4. If it says “Manually,” you have a static IP address. If it says “Using DHCP,” you have a dynamic IP address.

Android

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Connections > Wi-Fi.
  3. Tap the gear icon next to your current active network.
  4. Tap View more.
  5. Look for IP settings. If it says “DHCP,” you have a dynamic IP address. If it says “Static,” you have a static IP address.

iOS

  1. Tap Settings > Wi-Fi.
  2. Tap your current active network.
  3. Look for Configure IP. If it says “Manual,” you have a static IP address. If it says “Automatic,” you have a dynamic IP address.

How to get a dynamic IP address

If you’re using a personal or residential network, you likely have a dynamic IP address so you don’t need to request it specifically.

Dynamic IP VPNs

With ExpressVPN, you’ll use dynamic IP addresses which rotate regularly among its users so no one can trace your online activity back to you.

How to get a static IP address

You don’t normally need a static IP address. If you do—contact your internet service provider to request a static IP address for an additional fee.

Static (dedicated) IP VPNs

VPN providers don’t usually give out static IP addresses since they’ll always give you the same “entry point” to the internet—which contradicts with what a VPN achieves.

FAQ: About dynamic and static IP addresses

What’s the difference between dynamic IP, static IP, and PPPoE?

Dynamic and static IP addresses are public addresses used to identify you on the internet. PPPoE, which stands for Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet, is a network protocol that lets your devices connect to your modem. It doesn’t have much to do with dynamic and static IP addresses.

Should I use dynamic IP or PPPoE?

Dynamic IP addresses and PPPoE are two different concepts and shouldn’t be compared.

What’s the difference between DHCP and static IP?

DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is a protocol used for assigning dynamic IP addresses to devices connected to a network. A static IP is an IP address that doesn’t change.

Which is better—DHCP or static IP?

DHCP is a protocol used for giving dynamic IP addresses to devices. The question should be more about whether a dynamic IP address (which is set up using DHCP) or a static IP address is better. A dynamic IP address, DHCP, makes sense in most cases, unless you are hosting a server.

Ways to protect your IP address

Regardless of which type of IP you use, remember to always take an extra step to keep your IP address private.

Your IP address is the extension of your online identity. Even if you use a dynamic IP address, which is the safer option out of the box, it can still be exploited to get your browsing history, passwords, emails, and more.

It’s important to keep your IP address private—regardless of which type of IP addresses you have:

  • Use a VPN to hide your IP address and keep your online traffic private from third parties and your ISP
  • Install a browser extension with HTTPS Everywhere online for greater security—it’s also offered by the ExpressVPN browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
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