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A static Internet Protocol (IP) address (static IP address) is a permanent number assigned to a computer by an Internet service provider (ISP).
A static IP address is also known as a fixed IP address or dedicated IP address, and is the opposite of a dynamic IP address.
A computer with an assigned static IP address uses the same IP address when connecting to the Internet.
Static IP addresses are useful for gaming, website hosting or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.
Speed and reliability are key advantages. Because a static address is constant, systems with static IP addresses are vulnerable to data mining and increased security risks.
An ISP is allocated a range of IP addresses. The ISP assigns each address to its networked computers via the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server, which is configured to allocate static IP addresses to specific computers.
The addresses are used for network identification and communication. Allocation mechanisms vary, depending on platform, and include manually typing the IP address into the device or assigning it via a router.
Unlimited IP address requirements were not considered when the Internet was first conceptualized. At that time, Internet Protocol version 4, based on 32-bit addressing (IPv4) allowed for 4.2 billion unique addresses.
Even then, ISPs approached static addressing conservatively by limiting static addresses to unused IP addresses to facilitate temporary IP, or dynamic IP, addressing to requesting DHCP servers.
With the rapidly expanding use of IP-addressable devices, IPv4's limitations became more apparent.
The IPv6 protocol followed IPv4 and provided for 128-bit addressing for virtually unlimited IP addresses.
Static IP address advantages include:
Email server hosting capabilities
Ideal for online gaming
Static IP addresses are particularly useful for events such as hosting a website. With a dynamic IP address, every time the address changes, the router won’t know which device in the network is the one hosting the site.
A static IP will let your customers find you via DNS, instead. A static IP will make easier to set up and use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) since that address needs to be whitelisted as trusted just once.
Video and audio communications can also be stabilized when using a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This is a particularly important aspect when a fast and stable connection is required, for example, for online gaming purposes.
Static IP addresses do have their drawbacks, though.
The most evident one is that an address that never changes is easier to be hacked as a malicious actor has much more time to identify and leverage network vulnerabilities.
Also, once a cybercriminal has “hooked” that IP, they can continuously disrupt it via a cyberattack, like a prolonged DDoS attack.
A static IP means that your physical location can be determined with ease, which is a good thing if you need prompt geo-localization, but also a downfall if an ill-intentioned user wants to find where you and your computer are located.