Whether you’re new to remote work or a seasoned pro looking to up your game, you might be wondering, “What is a dedicated IP address?” or “Do I really need a dedicated IP for remote work?” Both are valid questions — especially now.
Since the shift to remote work, businesses and employees have dealt with increasing security risks and threats. Many telecommuters use VPNs or SSL certificates for a secure remote work experience, but it’s often not enough. Business owners and organizations are also advised to get a dedicated IP address for an added layer of protection.
What is an IP address?
An internet protocol (IP) address is a unique address assigned to individual computers, servers, domains, or devices over the internet or a local network. Whenever you access a website, your computer communicates to the webserver through the IP address.
IP addresses consist of four sets of numbers, each separated by periods (x.x.x.x), ranging from 0 to 255, which comes out to around 4.2 billion combinations.
The conventional IP address we’re used to is the IPv4 (IP version 4). It was created in the 1980s and used a 32-bit system that didn’t account for how fast the internet would grow. We have long since exhausted those 4.2 billion combinations. Thus, a new internet addressing system called IPv6 was deployed in 1999.
IP addresses and the Domain Name System (DNS)
IP addresses aren’t random. They are produced and assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), part of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The ICANN is a non-profit organization that maintains internet security. One of its functions is to maintain the domain name system (DNS). You can think of the DNS as a phonebook that matches domain names to IP addresses.
The DNS was born because IP addresses are composed of a string of numbers – making it difficult for users to remember which numbers belonged to which website. Without the DNS, you would have to type in “18.104.22.168” to get to Google and other IP addresses to get to other websites.
How IP addresses work
Your network, devices and the internet use IP addresses to communicate with each other. Let’s look at how IP addresses work when connecting your device to the internet.
Before your device can access the internet, it must connect to a network. That network would likely be your Internet Service Provider (ISP) if you’re at home, while it would be public Wi-Fi if you’re outside your home network.
Internet activity goes through the ISP, which is shared with your device using an IP address. In this case, the ISP assigns an IP address to your device. That assigned IP address, however, is temporary. When you turn your modem or router off, your device gets disconnected from the network. Or, when you travel, your device uses another network to connect to the internet.
That new network you connect to (hotel, coffee shop, or airport Wi-Fi) shares a different IP address. This is but one of many examples of how devices use IP addresses to communicate with each other.
Different types of IP addresses
There are different types of IP addresses, which are further subdivided into different categories. Consumer IP addresses and website IP addresses are the main types of IP addresses.
Consumer IP address
Consumer IP addresses are assigned to devices connected to the internet. There are two kinds of consumer IP addresses: private and public IP addresses.
These types describe a network’s location: private IP addresses are used inside a network, while public IP addresses are used outside.
Private IP vs. Public IP
Your network router assigns private IP addresses to your devices to communicate with it internally. In contrast, your ISP assigns public IP addresses. The public IP is the primary address associated with your internet network.
Private IP addresses exist because multiple devices connect to a household’s network. Modern homes have computers, smartphones, tablets and even Bluetooth-enabled devices such as speakers, printers or smart TVs connecting to a router at any given time.
Because your router connects to so many devices, it needs a way to identify each item. Thus, it generates private IP addresses that differentiate each device on the internal network.
While each device connected to the network has its own private IP address to communicate with the router, remember that all devices simultaneously access the internet through the router as well. Thus, they all have the same public IP address.
Public IP addresses are further classified into two kinds – static and dynamic. These types describe a network’s permanency.
Dynamic IP vs. Static IP
A dynamic IP address is an IP address that often changes, while a static IP address does not change. ISPs and web hosting companies automatically assign dynamic IP addresses while they manually create static IP addresses.
Dynamic IP addresses are the most common type of IP address. They are only active for a certain amount of time, after which they expire. Once the computer disconnects from the network, it receives a new IP address or requests a new one.
Advantages of dynamic IP addresses include cost savings and security. ISPs buy multiple IP addresses and assign them to users. Automating the movement of IP addresses means there’s no need to get users their original IP addresses. Once a user is disconnected, ISPs can reassign a new IP address and give new users the old one to use.
Additionally, a changing IP makes it harder for criminals to hack into your network.
Individuals and businesses seldom use static IP addresses. Servers hosting large websites or providing email and FTP services use static IP addresses so other devices can easily find them on the web.
Website IP address
The website IP address is the other type of IP address besides the consumer IP.
If consumer IPs are assigned to devices connected to the internet, website IPs are used for web hosting packages. There are two types of website IPs: shared and dedicated.
Dedicated IP address vs. Shared IP address
You can get a dedicated IP address and shared IP address from hosting providers, but the main difference is the number of users assigned to it.
Dedicated IPs are exclusive to a single account, while a shared IP is assigned to multiple users.
Shared IP addresses are often common to shared hosting accounts. This type of web hosting plan hosts multiple websites on the same server, making it possible for these domains to share an IP address.
But, while shared IP addresses are common in shared hosting plans, it is also possible to have a shared IP address without a shared server. For instance, some Managed WordPress hosting plans share IP addresses but not server resources.
Shared IP addresses are often dynamic IPs, while dedicated IP addresses are static. You have sole use over them once they’re assigned to you.
Important: Don’t confuse a dedicated IP address with a dedicated server; you can get a dedicated IP address without signing up for a dedicated hosting plan.
Benefits of a dedicated IP address
There are several benefits to having a single IP address dedicated to your use. It’s fast and secure, and there’s a smaller chance of your IP getting blacklisted.
Let’s explore each benefit in detail:
1. Secure remote access
A dedicated IP address allows employees to connect to company resources securely. It enables you to control access to specific resources and sensitive company assets. You can do this by allowing specific IP addresses and restricting access to servers and gateways you choose.
2. Reduced risk of IP blacklisting
Another benefit of a dedicated IP address is safety and location privacy. Some people prefer it when they can’t be traced.
While sharing an IP address is generally safe, it risks country-specific blocking of your website. Other websites on your server might perform illegal activities such as sending out spam emails, viruses, or malware that could get your websites blocked by search engines.
When you use a dedicated IP address for remote work or otherwise, there is zero chance of your IP getting blocked — unless you do something malicious intentionally.
3. Faster and safer file transfer
A dedicated IP ensures faster site speeds. You don’t have to contend with web traffic because you’re the only one using the IP address.
A dedicated IP also allows you to build a file transfer protocol (FTP) server to share files within an organization. A private FTP server offers better protection and a faster file transfer rate.
4. Improved email deliverability
You will benefit from a dedicated IP address if you send large volumes of emails; anything above 100,000+ per year is considered a large volume.
The main reason?
An IP’s reputation can impact your email delivery rate.
Email services such as Gmail and Yahoo trust emails from dedicated IPs more than those from shared IP addresses. They often double-check emails from shared IP addresses because spam emails are more likely to come from accounts hosted on those IPs.
5. Direct access to your website
Dedicated IP addresses allow you to access your website directly using the IP address since it’s the only domain mapped to that IP. For example, typing in “22.214.171.124” would lead you directly to Google because that is its dedicated IP address.
While it’s not the main advantage of having a dedicated IP, it is a handy perk when domain servers are down.
Bottom line: Beef up your cybersecurity efforts with a dedicated IP address. It securely connects you to your remote server and improves site speed. That’s a win-win for remote workers and their employees and clients.