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.
An IP address is like a house address. This video makes the concept easy to understand.
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.
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
- Businesses sending large quantities of email may benefit from having a dedicated IP, since it can be whitelisted with more confidence
SNI or Dedicated IP?
If you don’t have a dedicated IP address but have your own domain, you can still use an SSL certificate. What makes it possible is a protocol called Server Name Indication (SNI).
It lets multiple domains each have an SSL certificate on the same IP address. It’s a more economical approach, since it doesn’t require a unique IP address for each domain.
It works only when the client and server both support SNI. This isn’t a problem with modern browsers and servers, but older computers, including anything running Windows XP, won’t be able to validate an SNI certificate.
All major web servers have supported SNI for a long time, but some web applications may not. Browsers that aren’t SNI-compliant should be able to connect securely, but they may issue warnings.
Are Dedicated IPs an SEO Factor?
Some bloggers and Search Engine Optimization (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.
Google and SSL
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.
A related issue is spam blacklisting. If another customer of your host company does heavy spamming, it will probably lose its host account.
In the meantime, though, spam trackers will put that IP address on their published blacklists. You might be the next to get that address.It will probably fall off the list in a week, but the blacklist’s subscribers might block your mail until then.
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.
Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, explains why we need IPv6: “the next version of the Internet.”
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. An IPv6 address is 128 bits long, against 32 bits for the old addresses.
Pros and Cons of IPv4 and IPv6
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:
- Some older routers and DNS servers 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
|Configuration||Manual (static) or DHCP (Dynamic configuration)||Auto-configuration capability|
|Number of bits on IP address||32||128|
|Capacity||43 billion||>340 undecillion|
|Usage by networks||99%||<1%|
No server hosts, except for highly experimental ones, rely on IPv6 alone.
You’ll still have an IPv4 address after you add IPv6. The combination gives you a unique IPv6 address with software that can handle it, without the extra cost of a dedicated IPv4 address.
Current servers and routers don’t have the slowdown problem that plagued early implementations.
Network Address Translation
In an important sense, we’re already run out of IPv4 addresses. There are more devices on the Internet than 32-bit static IP addresses. What keeps the system from collapsing is a trick called Network Address Translation (NAT). IPv6 doesn’t need or use NAT.
A local network allocates private IP addresses to its devices, usually of the form 10.x.x.x or 192.168.x.x.
The router translates them into a public IP address for the whole LAN. It keeps track of sessions so it knows what device incoming packets are really intended for. The network doesn’t need to acquire a lot of scarce unique IP addresses.
This approach generally works well, but it adds router overhead. It sometimes causes problems when a software license is tied to a server IP address.
Hosting plans featured on this page provide at least 1 dedicated IP address free to customers. However, most hosts offer dedicated IP addresses very cheap (as low as $1/yr) as an add-on.
Top Three Hosts for Dedicated IP Hosting
SiteGround’s cloud host plans include a free domain and a dedicated IP address. A dedicated server comes with 5 IP addresses, and SiteGround handles all aspects of its management.
Even shared hosting accounts can be upgraded to a fixed address. SiteGround is a strong choice for a small business that’s looking for internationalization and support. It’s based outside the US, which might be an issue for some customers.
A2 Hosting uses an a la carte plan for dedicated IP addresses, letting you purchase addresses as you need them and release them if you don’t need them anymore.
Dedicated servers come with a dedicated address. Multiple host service plans for shared, VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting are available. On the minus side, you have to manage your own backups.
InMotion’s VPS hosting and dedicated servers come with multiple IP addresses as a standard feature, even for the least expensive plan.
Dedicated servers come with the cPanel control panel and fast SSD storage. You can choose your datacenter to match your target audience. If you’re looking for Windows hosting, though, you won’t find it here.
Dedicated IP Hosting Pros and Cons
Before making a decision, here are some pros and cons for choosing a dedicated IP host.
- Needed for some kinds of connections.
- Protects the reputation of your IP address.
- Makes SSL configuration simple.
- Costs more than a shared IP address
Dedicated IP Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an IP address?
In the context of the internet and web hosting, an IP address is a coded numerical sequence that uniquely identifies a computer or device on the internet.
- What does an IP address have to do with web hosting?
Human users interact with addresses on the internet with human-readable “domain names” like WhoIsHostingThis.com. However, the computers that run the internet do not use these names. Rather, every server is assigned a unique IP address.
Domain name servers at your web host and throughout the domain name system route requests for the human readable name to the appropriate IP address, based on an index that matches names to addresses.
- Does every website have its own IP address?
No. An IP address identifies a device — a server or cluster of servers. A single server might host dozens, or hundreds, of websites.
- With a shared hosting plan, does my website share the same IP address with other websites?
Usually. In a shared hosting plan, the hosting company places several customer accounts on the same server. All the websites on those accounts share the same computing resources and the same IP address. But it is possible to have a dedicated IP address on a shared server.
- Are there any disadvantages to sharing an IP address with other websites?
There can be.
Since firewalls often use IP addresses to identify spam or inappropriate content, if one website or account holder on the same server does something that might cause the IP address to be blocked, your site might be blocked as well.
Although shared hosting providers do a lot to mitigate this risk, it is still a possibility.
There is some evidence that Google and other search engines will “punish” websites that share IP addresses with sites that engage in bad SEO behavior (such link farming, spam, and other tactics). It is unclear whether this is the case, but it is a cause for concern.
- What is dedicated IP address hosting?
Many web hosting companies will assign you a unique IP address for your account for an additional fee. This is advertised as “Dedicated IP Address Hosting.” All the websites you host through that account will use that IP address, but no one else will.
- If I get a dedicated IP address, does that mean I’m no longer sharing server resources?
Not necessarily. There is not a one-to-one relationship between physical (or even virtual) computers and IP addresses.
If you have a shared hosting plan, and you add a dedicated IP address, you are still on the shared hosting plan. The only benefit you are getting is the dedicated IP address, nothing else changes about your access to computing resources.
- Is a hosting plan specifically called “Dedicated IP Address Hosting” a shared hosting plan?
Probably. With other forms of hosting, like a Virtual Private Server (VPS), you will have a unique IP address no matter what. This will probably be mentioned in the “features” description of the hosting plan, but it usually isn’t the main selling point.
You should look into the specific plan, but a hosting plan that goes to a lot of trouble to point out that you get a dedicated IP address is usually going to be a shared hosting plan.
- Is there any reason I would specifically need a dedicated IP address?
Yes. If you need an SSL security certificate so that you can run your pages on the HTTPS protocol, you will need your own IP address.
- Why would I need an SSL security certificate?
The most common reason for an SSL security certificate is ecommerce. If you are processing credit cards on your site, you really should have a security certificate included in your plan.
Email, text messaging, medical records, financial information, and any other type of private communication should be done over HTTPS.
If your website is engaging in any of those things, you will need a security certificate and therefore, your own IP address.
- So if I need an SSL security certificate, I should get a Dedicated IP Address Hosting plan?
Not necessarily. You need at least a dedicated IP address. But as mentioned above, you can get a dedicated IP address on a shared hosting environment.
- How does Dedicated IP Hosting compare to a Virtual Private Server?
If you need a Dedicated IP Address, there’s a good chance you also need your own web server.
Shared hosting plans have a lot of problems being completely separate from the IP address issue. Also, the speed and performance enhancement that can come from using a VPS instead of a shared host is likely to do more good for your SEO than a dedicated IP address alone.