What is a Dedicated IP Address & Does Your Website Need One?

Essentially, website IP addresses come in two options: shared and dedicated. The main difference lies in the level of isolation and exclusivity provided. Find out which one to choose in this post.

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Have you stumbled upon the term dedicated IP address while scouring the Internet for a hosting plan that packs the best punch in terms of features? And has this left you all confused, asking what is a dedicated IP address and if your website needs one? Well, you are not alone!

The technical details of how websites work are foreign to many people, and the dedicated IP dilemma only makes matters more confusing. Since dedicated IPs often come as an extra feature and even include the option of getting an additional IP address at an extra fee, new or inexperienced website owners usually question whether they need one.

It's a valid question whose answer lies in understanding what is an IP address and why it matters for your website. To help with that, we'll walk you through the role IP addresses play in the vast ecosystem of the online world.

From the basics of Internet connectivity to the intricacies of server communication, we'll unravel the IP address mystery and then dive into dedicated IP address as an option and the advantages it brings to the table. By the end of this article, you'll have the information needed to determine if getting a dedicated IP address is necessary.

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What is An IP Address?

An IP address is a unique numerical sequence assigned to any device using the Internet (or a local network) to communicate.

Its abbreviation stands for Internet Protocol, a set of rules and conventions governing how data gets transmitted over networks, including the Internet.

The address (a unique string of numbers) acts like an identifier for a device and the network it connects to, making it possible for data to be routed correctly across interconnected networks.

Think of an IP address like a street address for your device in the digital world. In the same way a street address guides courier services in delivering letters and other packages to the proper location, an IP address helps routers and servers direct data packets to the correct device on a network. It is how you are able to send an email successfully, download a digital file, or request any information online and have it appear on your screen.

It is also worth noting that IP addresses come in two versions, namely:

  • Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4): As the conventional IP address, IPv4 is what most people are familiar with. It consists of 32-bit numeric values separated by periods (e.g., 69.63.176.13). IPv4 became a standard in the 1980's, and the exhaustion of its 4.2 billion possible addresses necessitated the creation of the second version of IP addresses.

  • Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6): This second version is more complex than the first and yields trillions of possible combinations. It uses 128-bit alphanumeric values, represented as a series of hexadecimal digits separated by colons, and could look something like this 2620:0:862:ed1a::1.

So What Is The IP Address And Web Hosting Connection?

Generally, there are two main types of IP addresses - consumer and website IP addresses. The following is a quick overview of how they differ.

Consumer IP Address

A consumer IP address is dynamic and provided by ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Whenever you connect to your home network, your ISP assigns your device (phone, laptop, tablet, etc) an IP address that acts like a return address, allowing you to receive the requested information sent back to your device. However, that address is only loaned to your device temporarily throughout the duration you remain connected to the network.

As soon as you disconnect from the Internet, the address is recycled and assigned to someone else who comes online using the same network. And the next time you use your router/modem to access the Internet, your device is assigned an entirely different IP address.

Website (or Server) IP Address

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Unlike their counterparts, website IP addresses are static (i.e., fixed in nature) and supplied by a web hosting provider. Since IP addresses serve as the backbone of Internet communication, making it possible for devices to connect, communicate, and share data across networks worldwide, every server in a hosting environment is provided with its own address.

Another distinguishing feature of server IP addresses is they are customizable. With the consumer option, IP address assignment happens automatically through the ISP's Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). On the other hand, web hosting providers have the leeway to manually configure the IP addresses of servers and other network infrastructure components (such as routers, network switches, etc).

The configured IP address is permanent and does not change unless modified by the hosting company's network administrator (or the owner of a hosted website in permitted cases such as colocation web hosting).

Shared Vs. Dedicated IP Address

Now that you're familiar with what an IP address is and its role in delivering website content to browsers upon request, let's address the pressing question: what is a dedicated IP address?

Essentially, website IP addresses come in two options: shared and dedicated. The main difference lies in the level of isolation and exclusivity provided.

In a shared web hosting plan, one server hosts multiple websites. As such, they will all share the same IP address. However, each website on the server will have a unique domain name (e.g., www.example1.com, www.example2.org, and so on), but they all resolve to the same IP address.

A dedicated IP address, on the other hand, is reserved for a single website. So, if you have a dedicated IP address, entering those numbers or your site's domain name into the address bar of a web browser will take you directly to your website.

With a shared IP address, the only access route to your website is through its domain name. Once an individual enters the domain name in their browser, the Domain Name System (DNS) translates the domain name into the corresponding server IP address, allowing the browser to connect to the server and retrieve the website's content.

Shared and dedicated IP addresses also differ in terms of price and performance. Shared IPs typically come with the more affordable shared hosting plans but have limitations in control and potential reputation impact. Since multiple websites share the same IP address, the actions of one website, such as spamming or engaging in malicious activities, can affect the reputation of the entire IP address, potentially leading to email flagging and deliverability issues.

In contrast, it may cost more to host a website with a dedicated IP address (since it's a standard feature of the other higher priced types of web hosting). But this comes with distinct advantages that some website owners will find invaluable.

6 Benefits of a Dedicated IP Address for Your Website

By removing you from a shared environment, a dedicated IP address delivers several benefits that touch on speed, security, performance, customization, and more. Below, we dig into those benefits to help you understand when a dedicated website IP address is suitable to have.

1Direct Access to Your Website

Accessing a website via an IP address is not something all site owners will want to do, but it can be necessary in some instances. For example, when testing or troubleshooting website functionality, developers/administrators may need to access the website directly via its IP address to bypass DNS resolution issues or to isolate problems related to domain configuration, DNS settings, or SSL certificate installation.

Alternatively, applications or services that integrate with a website's API (Application Programming Interface) often require direct access to the site's IP address. That includes Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), monitoring & analytics tools, and security & penetration testing tools. A dedicated IP address helps facilitate seamless integration for such applications.

2Escape the Blacklisted IP Address Nightmare

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Just as a neighborhood can transform into a high-crime area due to criminal activity, a shared IP address can be blacklisted by email services and search engines if a website linked to that address gets flagged for spamming or other malicious activities. With a dedicated IP address, you do not have to worry about the actions of other websites coming to haunt you.

3Beneficial for Email Marketing

And speaking of emails, a dedicated IP address is particularly advantageous when undertaking extensive email marketing campaigns through your website. A good email sender reputation is essential for ensuring your marketing emails actually reach the targeted inboxes. ESPs (email service providers) usually assess the reputation of an IP address when determining whether to deliver emails to recipients' inboxes or mark them as spam.

With a dedicated IP, you have more control over your email reputation and can work towards ensuring it remains clean.

Additionally, since there are no neighbor websites to share resources with, you can send out massive volumes of emails while sticking to the email-sending policies and guidelines of Email Service Providers (ESPs).

4Improves Website Performance

When an end-user requests access to a website with a shared IP address, the web browser takes a few seconds to identify the correct domain name to load for the user among the many websites hosted on the server. But with a dedicated IP address, there is no latency, as the request goes directly to the corresponding domain name, thus translating into faster load times.

But that's not all. As we mentioned earlier, dedicated IPs allow for custom configurations. As the sole owner of a dedicated IP address, you can tailor server settings around your site's specific requirements, performance goals, and security needs. These optimization measures can further work to build on website performance.

5Security Advantages

Dedicated IPs offer several security benefits, beginning with the fact that you can configure firewalls to allow or block access based on specific IP addresses.

For a business or company that offers services online, this adds an extra layer of security because you can restrict access to unauthorized users or locations. It's also a great way to secure remote access for authorized personnel to carry out back-end tasks while safeguarding sensitive company information.

Also, a dedicated IP address makes it easy to configure and manage an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate for secure connections. SSL certificates complement the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) extension, which uses encryption to facilitate secure connections between web browsers and servers. Besides improving your website's SEO, an SSL certificate protects sensitive information such as login credentials or payment details.

Lastly, with a dedicated IP address, your website is isolated from other websites on the server, reducing the risk of being affected by security vulnerabilities such as viruses or malware from neighboring sites.

6You Can Request Additional IP Addresses

Dedicated IP addresses typically come in higher-tier hosting plans such VPS, reseller, colocation, dedicated, and cloud hosting. These hosting plans also allow you to request an additional IP address or even more if you wish to, at a specified additional fee.

Do you intend to manage or host multiple websites as a reseller? If so, additional IP addresses could be necessary. They'll help you to establish individual online identities for each website and secure all the benefits we've just covered.

Requesting additional IP addresses may also be necessary if you deal with large volumes of marketing emails or transactional emails for your website.

Another reason is if you prioritize website security and want to isolate certain services or applications on separate IP addresses to mitigate security risks and protect sensitive data.

Do You Need a Dedicated IP Address for Your Website?

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Ultimately, there is no good or bad pick between a shared and dedicated IP address. It is more a matter of which one suits your website better. Low-traffic websites or those not requiring strict security measures should be just fine with a shared IP address.

Generally, user cases that can benefit from a dedicated IP address include:

  • E-commerce stores handling sensitive customer information
  • Business websites requiring more control over server access and security
  • High-traffic websites needing reliable performance and dedicated resources
  • Websites that invest heavily in email marketing and need to maintain a solid IP address reputation
  • Individuals with multiple websites, which they would like to have individual IP addresses

Conclusion

As we conclude our exploration into the world of dedicated IP addresses and their relevance to websites, it is clear that they are more than mere add-ons. From ensuring secure connections through SSL certificates to optimizing email deliverability to providing greater control over server configurations, a dedicated IP address offers many benefits for website owners.

Nonetheless, a dedicated IP address is not always a must-have feature for every website owner. Whether you need one depends on the specific needs of your website.

Ultimately, the decision is yours, but hopefully, we've illuminated the meaning and significance of a dedicated IP address well enough to help you decide what's best for your website.

Ready to boost your hosting power with additional IP addresses? Whether you're exploring our Reseller or Cloud VM hosting, simply select the 'Additional IP Addresses' option in the 'Available Addons' section during setup (refer to the screenshot below). Sign up now and elevate your online presence today.

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About The Author ~ Enid K.

Enid is a Web Hosting Expert and HubSpot certified SEO copywriter. She shares her knowledge and insights through blog posts and tutorials, helping readers navigate the complexities of web hosting and website creation. When she's not writing, Enid loves to cook and experiment with new recipes.

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