IP addresses allow devices connected to the internet to communicate with web servers. There are many types of IP addresses and in this blog post we attempt to explain and compare the differences.
What is an IP address?
An IP address stands for Internet Protocol Address. It’s a form of numbers that identify a device connected to the wider internet.
It’s like a mailbox address, and it’s needed so that devices and servers could exchange and share information with each another.
As an example, if you use a search engine such as Google to search “What is a VPN” your device’s IP address will send a request to Google’s servers. Google will then find you an answer and send it back specifically to you, and not anybody else, because of your IP address.
It sounds very straightforward, but there are many types of IP addresses, which can become confusing. All are required to perform different tasks, so it’s worth understanding their differences.
The two different types of IP addresses people have access to are:
1. Private (used in your internal network)
2. Public (used to access the internet).
Public IPs are divided into dynamic (temporarily assigned) or static (permanently assigned).
What is a public IP address?
Your public IP address is assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and is the address your router uses to communicate with the wider net. You can see yours by visiting our website www.my-expat-network.com It’s top left of the page and will also give you a location. If you have more than one device using the same internet connection, they will share the same public IP address.
Public IP is also identifies you personally so you can be tracked and your internet activities monitored.
What is a private IP address?
All devices on your home network have their own private IP addresses assigned by your home router. For example Laptops, smart TVs, or a mobile phone.
Private IP addresses operate only within the local network, so you and your neighbour, could be using the same private IP addresses. Since your IPs are on different networks, they don’t have to be unique.
Two devices on the same LAN (local area network), however, can’t have the same private IP addresses.
Private v Public IP
Every single device connected to the internet has both private and public IP addresses. But why do we need two?
The answer is that we don’t have enough IP addresses for the number of devices in use. In the 1980s, when the IPV4 protocol was invented it introduced 32-bit numerical IP addresses. These equated to approximately 4.3 billion unique IP addresses. At the time that was thought to be enough. How wrong we were !!
The problem was solved by introducing private IP addresses and Network Address Translation. NAT sits on your router and directs the traffic from the wider net to all the devices sitting on the same network. The router alone assigns these devices unique private IP addresses. These cannot be routed over the internet, so many devices in the world can have the same private IPs without clashing.
Static v Dynamic IP
Public IPs are split into two categories: static and dynamic.
A dynamic IP address, changes over time. Your ISP assigns them, but they will change every time you reboot your device, add a new device to your network, or change your network configuration. The changes rarely have any impact on your connection, and dynamic IPs are mostly used in households.
A static IP address, unlike a dynamic IP, never changes. They are usually assigned to servers that host websites or provide email or FTP services. However, they can also be given to public organisations that need stable connections and consistent web addresses. Some Individuals use them for gaming or VOIP connections as these also need very stable connections.
Static IP Addresses are not often used for individual households as they have some downsides:
ISP charges are higher for assigning a static IP;
They require additional security measures as they are more susceptible to brute force attacks;
They are easier to track by data mining companies.
What is a dedicated IP address?
A dedicated IP address is a unique static IP address given to a website on a shared hosting server. Web servers that host websites can have lots of static IP addresses assigned to them. The server can then assign a static IP to a multitude of websites that would then have a shared IP address. However, if the web server offers a static and unique IP address to a single website, this would then be called a dedicated IP.
Some websites choose dedicated IP addresses because they have high traffic and need stable connections. Developers might also need to access servers via its IP rather than a URL (especially when the system is down) or need a stable IP address to gain a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. However, dedicated IPs are not just for websites – individuals can get them too. They can be assigned to you by VPN providers such as My Expat Network. There are many benefits to a dedicated IP:
Allows you to control your online reputation;
Can be used for online banking. Banks can sometimes flag logins with shared IPs as suspicious activity;
Makes it less likely for websites to ask you to complete ‘captcha’ requests;
Allows users to connect to remote servers via whitelists.