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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). 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.
A static IP address is also known as a fixed address. This means that a computer with an assigned static IP address uses the same IP address when connecting to the Internet.
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.
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: