Static and Dynamic IP addresses may seem a bit of a mystery. When considering that every device connected to a network uses an IP address to do so, it is no wonder there are so many options and costs involved in connecting or maintaining a network. Today we will be discussing the differences between static and dynamic IP addresses, and what to look for when considering both options.
There are two different types of IP addresses. An IPv4 address is a 32-bit number, while an IPv6 address is eight groups of hexadecimals: both identify your computer. Basically, you can think of an IP address like the address of your house. Let’s say that you want to call your house from a remote connection that identifies with your static IP address, and in this scenario you are calling from a cell phone to your home phone. A static IP address is an address that never changes. The benefits for static IP addresses is that it makes connecting to static IP addresses much easier because it never changes. Connecting remotely to your static IP address is one of the biggest benefits of having a static IP address. Static IP addresses are also used for remote cameras and hosting web servers.
Dynamic IP addresses are addresses that change or are reassigned. This means that every time that you join an internet connection you are assigned an IP address to do so, and every time you close an internet session the IP address is reassigned back to the network. The use of dynamic IP addresses was created out of the necessity of IPV4 addresses that are or were currently available. According to Networkworkworld.com, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (IP addresses) ran out of IPv4 addresses back in late 2015. IPv4 was said to have over four billing IP addresses, yet still ran out. IPV6 IPs are available and have yet to predict running out anytime soon; with over 300 undecillion IPv6 addresses available, exhausting IPv6 resources seems highly unlikely in the next 75 years.
How do I know if I am using a static or dynamic IP address?
The simplest way to tell if you are using a static or dynamic IP address is through the command prompt. Once you are in the command prompt you can run the command “ipconfig” to see the IP addresses that are currently assigned to your computer. It is uncommon but highly possible to assign yourself an IP address as your static address. It is far more common for a dynamic IP address to be assigned because of the nature of the network device. Take, for example, your laptop on your home network. There is little chance that if that laptop is using a dynamic IP that you will be able to connect remotely. The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is responsible for leasing this IP address to your computer every time you start a network session online.
There are four steps to DCHP granting an IP address to a host to access the web:
- Discover: This is the computer’s message out to the network to reach a DCHP service. The host is broadcasting for an available address. UDP port 67 is reserved for DHCP servers while port 68 is reserved for clients.
- Offer: The DCHP provider computes this recognized request and offers back a connection. This is broadcasting to everyone on the network.
- Request: the computer requests an IP address from the designated DCHP provider. This is also broadcasting to everyone on the network.
- Acknowledge: The DCHP assigns the computer the IP address that is unique to the network. This way there are no conflicts in the entirety of the network. DHCP uses transaction IDs to distinguish simultaneous requests from different hosts. Having multiple DHCP servers means they can all broadcast the response offer, thereby decreasing an downtime or lag in network connection.
Why have a static IP address?
This may seem like a redundant question: if most activity on the web uses a dynamic IP address what is the point in having (or investing in) a static IP. The answer is simple. If you host a server, then you should require a VPN connection or require users to connect to your server via IP address instead of through the domain name.
Because of the availability of static IP addresses, there is a fee for owning one. For example, say that you want to run your business from your own server, and want users to have the ability to sign in and use your services. This will require a static IP address. Prices can range between $1-$4 per IP address per month and $45-$50, depending on the extent of your required services.
Alternatives and cost saving options
There is a cost-saving service that is oftentimes used in the situation where you would like to connect to your home laptop or a device such as a remote camera while you are away. Services such as No-IP use a static hostname to connect and constantly update your IP address information so that it is 100% guaranteed that you will be able to connect through to your device. This is called an enhanced dynamic DNS. This is a cost-saving solution to having an exclusive VPN connection with the monthly subscription to static IP services.
Overall, the use of dynamic and static IP addresses differ by the purpose of the connection. Both dynamic and static IP addresses have their pros and cons. Considering the costs associated with static IP addresses, as well as the uncertainty of connecting remotely to a dynamic IP device, you should be wary when utilizing both types of IP addresses in your home and business life.