Static IP addresses are a feature offered by broadband providers for business or home users with specific technical requirements.
But what is a static IP, do you need one, and which internet service providers or ISPs can provide you with a static IP for home or business broadband?
Static IP address: the key points
What's an IP address?
Every device on a network has an internet protocol (IP) address, which identifies the device and tells the network where to send data.
An IP address is a set of numbers separated by periods. For example: 184.108.40.206.
Enter that IP address into a web browser and you’ll be taken to Google.
Web addresses are used instead of IP numbers to make them easier to remember and type. We’d probably not travel the web that much if we had to remember numbers for every website, so when you use a web address it's translated into the web server’s IP address by a domain name system (DNS) server.
IPv4 and IPv6
The example IP address above is an IPv4 address, which is the most common type you’ll see right now. But there’s also IPv6, a newer standard which has a much larger range of addresses.
This is required because we’re running out of IPv4 addresses. There's a maximum of 4.3 billion IPv4 numbers, which sounds like a lot but isn’t much when it has to be shared with all net-connected devices around the world. That's one reason why static IP addresses aren’t typically given out as standard and often come at an additional cost.
When it comes to home broadband, your connection has a public IP address that is assigned by the ISP and is visible on the wider internet.
Devices on your home Wi-Fi network will have their own internal IP address but it’s the public IP address that will be seen when communicating outside the local network.
What’s a static IP address?
The main type of IP address that broadband connections have is a dynamic IP address. They aren’t permanently assigned and can change. A static IP address, on the other hand, is permanently attached to the broadband connection.
For most home users the difference between a dynamic and static IP address doesn’t matter. It has no impact on the phone line, broadband speed, social media, streaming video, or any of the other things a typical household will do with their broadband.
But for some users — especially businesses — a static IP address may be preferable or essential.
Why would I need a static IP?
Any task which involves frequent connections to or from a specific IP address is made a lot simpler when that address isn’t at risk of changing without notice. Otherwise, you'd be forced to note down or update the new IP each time it changed, and any automated tasks relying on a specific IP would fail until the new address was entered.
Static IP addresses are useful when you want remote access to a device regularly. This would usually be for remote desktop control, operating a web, file or email server, or connecting to a network hard drive. A static IP address can also be used for extra security by configuring a service to only accept communications from a specific IP address.
Businesses are the most common users of a static IP but there are people operating servers from home too.
Which ISPs can give me a static IP address?
Many internet service providers can issue a static IP address but it may only be available to business customers. There’s often a cost involved, too, either a one-off fee or an additional monthly charge.
ISPs that can provide a static IP as part of their broadband packages include:
- Andrews & Arnold: Free static IP as standard.
- BT: Only available with BT Business broadband. They charge per IP address.
- Plusnet: Available on most home and business packages. There's a setup fee for home packages.
- TalkTalk: Only available with TalkTalk Business. But there’s a monthly fee.
- Toople: This business broadband ISP offers a free static IP on request.
- Virgin Media: Only available with Virgin Media Business on selected packages.
- Zen: Free static IP as standard.
How do I get broadband with a static IP address?
Getting broadband with a static IP is much the same as any other broadband service. You should check availability in your area with our deals checker, select a deal, and sign up.
Here are a couple of the best broadband deals currently available from Plusnet, which can provide a static IP address on request for a one-off fee:
You may be asked during the sign-up process if you want a static IP, while some providers will assign a static address as standard.
If you have already signed up with a provider which offers a static IP but don't currently have one, just contact them and ask for it to be set up.
What are the disadvantages of a static IP address?
Generally, a static IP address will be more expensive. Most providers will charge you more to have one set up. If they don’t, check the terms and conditions to make sure there aren’t any hidden fees on top of your monthly bills. This does make it more costly if you’re only a small business after one, so bear that in mind.
Static IP addresses can also be at a higher security risk. They tend to be more susceptible to hackers as the IP address won’t ever change. It also means that if you’re hacked, you can’t quickly change your IP address to prevent further hacking. If you’re a business, you should generally get a good internet security system in place, and this includes your broadband.
How to get a static address without switching to a static IP broadband provider
If you need a static address but it isn’t offered by your ISP, or you’d rather not pay for it, there are a couple of options. These are dynamic DNS (DDNS) or a VPN with static IP.
DDNS is a way of getting a static address on a dynamic IP by associating your connection with a URL (uniform resource locator - a web address). When the IP address changes a software application or the Wi-Fi router updates the URL with the new IP.
Unless your ISP already offers a free static IP we would recommend DDNS for most home users. It lets you easily access a home server or remote computer without switching providers, and it doesn't need to cost anything.
Some DDNS providers do charge a fee, such as the popular DynDNS. Fortunately, there are also free options that are good for home use. These include:
To use DDNS you will either need to install a desktop software application or configure the DDNS service on your Wi-Fi router.
Desktop software is the easiest to set up but it will only work on that device. That’s a little limiting for some users.
Setting it up with your router on the other hand will ensure that DDNS is always active. However, some models will only support a specific DDNS provider. Make sure you look into what your router allows before settling on a provider.
In some cases, the router manufacturer may offer a free DNS service. For example, Netgear partners with No-IP to provide its users with a free “mynetgear.com” hostname which can be quickly configured via the router administration controls. That’s pretty great.
VPN with static IP address
While DDNS is useful, it's not quite the same as a static IP. It works for incoming connections which require a fixed address. That means it’s good for devices or applications trying to connect to your home computer or network, but it won’t change how your IP address appears to the rest of the internet.
If you need a static IP address for connecting to another device or service, then you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). You connect to the internet through the VPN, so your IP address will be that of the VPN rather than your home broadband connection.
Many users utilise VPNs for extra security when out and about, or to access services that aren’t available in their own countries.
There are loads of VPN providers out there, many of which offer a static IP as an additional extra. To find out more about a VPN and how to use it, read our guide to VPNs.
For a small business, a static IP address can be essential. It may cost a little more, but can make working as a team across multiple devices a lot more practical. If you’re thinking of getting a static IP for your business, then first check to see if your broadband provider offers the service. If you’re with BT or Virgin Media or any others from the list above, you can just ask your provider to set you one up.
If your provider doesn’t offer this, use our deals checker to see what packages you can get from the providers that do. You might find you can get a better deal, even if it’s slightly more expensive.
For home users who are interested in a static IPN, we recommend not setting one up. Instead, utilise a VPN. Whether you use a free or paid VPN, they have more advantages than just a static VPN and will be more practical for you in the long run.
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