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What is Dedicated IP Hosting?
Every Internet Protocol (IP) address is an identifier that allows information to flow across the internet. A dedicated IP is an IP address that is exclusively yours. Some hosts charge extra for them, and not everyone needs one.
Having a dedicated IP address can protect you from having your site banned if one of your server neighbors gets caught trying to put one over on the search engines. You can also protect your site from any potential penalties of this nature by simply choosing dedicated server hosting and not having to worry about what any other sites may or may not be doing.
Another benefit to choosing dedicated IP hosting is that most hosts will only allow you to set this type of hosting up once you've already set up a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This provides encryption to your site, which is another level of security, and will be displayed in your site's URL with https:// rather than just http://, which lets users know they're on a secured site. So indirectly, selecting dedicated IP hosting can help your users feel more secure when using your site, which can be a boost for your brand and your business.
About IP Addresses
An IP address is a unique number that identifies a machine on the internet. In the IPv4 system, every IP address consists of four groups of digits, or octets, separated by dots. This system provides us with 4.3 billion unique combinations. No two IP addresses can be the same. The purpose of the Domain Name System (DNS) is to convert domain names into IP addresses.
(If you're still not sure how your computer finds the website you've asked for, we've put together a simple guide.
On a shared server, all sites on that server have the same IP address, because they are all on the same physical machine. For most people, this doesn't matter. Your host will automatically reroute traffic to your website, bypassing the others, and there's no perceptible speed difference. But sharing an IP can become a problem if:
- Propagation is taking a while, and you want to FTP into your hosting account right away
- You want to buy an SSL certificate to secure your site
- You want people to be able to visit your website using an IP address rather than a domain name
- You want full control over what your IP is being used for
- If you have a dedicated IP, you can do a lot more with your server
When You Definitely Need a Dedicated IP
Sometimes, a dedicated IP is the only way to run the services and applications you want to run. For example:
- Gaming servers require dedicated IP addresses
- Chat servers, such as Jabber, also require a dedicated IP to function
- You will need a dedicated IP if you want to process secure transactions, since you can't have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate on a shared IP
- Businesses sending large quantities of email may benefit from having a dedicated IP, since it can be whitelisted with mor confidence
SEO and Dedicated IPs
Some bloggers and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) companies claim that dedicated IP addresses are better for SEO, since Google prefers sites that don't share IPs. This isn't proven by any statistics that we have seen, although it is a controversial point.
There may be a small speed difference between shared hosting and other types of hosting, but this is not a direct relationship, since shared hosting accounts can have dedicated IP addresses. Server speed can still vary depending on many other factors.
We've also seen claims that sites with the same IP address are less trusted. Again, there isn't much in terms of evidence for this.
But most of these arguments are now moot, because Google has said it will be using SSL certificates as a factor in its search engine rankings. Since you need a dedicated IP for an SSL certificate, there's now a proven, albeit secondary, SEO benefit to having a dedicated IP.
IPv4 versus IPv6
IPv4 allows several billion unique IP addresses to be created. Now that everyone uses multiple devices, and multiple connections, and hosts multiple websites, it's conceivable that we could run out of IPs.
IPv6 addresses will be stored in AAAA records in our Domain Name System (DNS) records. They are not yet in common usage, but will become more common over the next five years. With IPv6, there are eight groups of hexadecimal numbers, separated by colons. This system will provide many billions of addresses, making it far easier to assign unique IPs to sites. In reality, we'll probably use it to create 64-bit IPs, which is double what we have now.
Many hosting companies are already offering IPv6 addresses, but not all routers can handle them. Before adding an IPv6 address to your account, it's best to research the pros and cons:
- Many routers ignore AAAA requests, making loading time very slow, since the client machine has to wait for the request to time out
- It may be possible to track individuals on the internet, raising privacy concerns
- Unique addresses mean it would be easier for advertisers to track us
- IPv6 addresses are less legible, so they are difficult to type, memorise or distribute
- Many internet users don't know what to do with an IPv6 address