IP, or Internet Protocol, addresses are the unique number codes that computers connected to the Internet use to locate and communicate with one another. The two major types of IP addresses are static, where a computer keeps a single IP address, and dynamic, where the network assigns the computer a new address each time it connects to the network. Static IP addresses have several distinct advantages and disadvantages compared with dynamic IP addresses.
One of the biggest advantages of a static IP address is that computers using this type of address can host servers containing data that other computers access through the Internet. A static IP address makes it easier for computers to locate the server from anywhere in the world.
In addition, computers that allow remote access on a closed network work best with static IP addresses. This allows different types of computers running different operating systems to access the host system by searching for the same IP address every time.
Static IP addresses are also more stable for Internet use since they never change. In cases of a dynamic IP address, the Internet service provider may automatically change the address on a regular basis, as frequently as every few hours. This can cause a lapse in the user's connection. The computer may also have trouble reconnecting to the Internet using the new address. Using a static IP address avoids all of these potential problems.
Static IP addresses are simpler to assign and maintain. For network administrators, it becomes easier to track Internet traffic and assign access to certain users based on IP address identification. Dynamic addresses require a program that assigns and changes IP addresses, and may require users to change the settings on their computers.
Number of Addresses
One main disadvantage of static IP addresses is that each address, once assigned, is occupied by a single computer even when that computer is not in use. Since each computer needs a unique address, this limits the number of available IP addresses. This has led Internet service providers to create several different IP standards to introduce more IP addresses into the system, thus making room for more computers.
A computer with a static IP address is much easier to track through the Internet. This can be a disadvantage in the case of websites that allow each visitor to download or view a set amount of content. The only way to view or download additional content may be to renew the IP address under a dynamic IP address system.
In the same way, copyright enforcers can track computer users who download content by tracking the IP address.
Users have raised privacy concerns over this sort of tracking and the question of whether or not Internet service providers should be required to disclose the name and address of the user associated with a particular static IP address remains a subject of debate.