Get a static IP address

ByDuncan Heaney

A static IP address allows you to take your broadband to the next level, opening up a host of new applications that can improve your home or business broadband connection.

In this guide:

Video: Why get a static IP address
Static IP internet service providers
What is an IP address?
What is a static IP address?
Which type to get
Why get a static IP address?
Alternatives to static IP addresses

A static IP address allows you to take your broadband to the next level, opening up a host of new applications that can improve your home or business broadband connection.

Compare broadband packages with a static IP address, and understand the pros and cons of using a fixed IP address.

Video: Why get a static IP address?

 

Static IP internet service providers

Some broadband providers offer a free static IP address on selected packages. Plusnet Broadband (www.Plus.net) customers on its Extra package also have the option of upgrading to a static IP address, for a small setup charge.

Some providers also allow you to upgrade to a static IP address for an extra monthly fee.

Static IP

 

What is an IP address?

An IP address is a number that identifies your computer or any other network device when it goes online. In simple terms, it works like your home address - just as knowing someone's home address makes it possible to send them a letter through the post, an IP address makes it possible for data to be sent over the internet to a specific machine.

Essentially, it works like a door to the world wide web, and without it, your PC can't communicate with other devices or access the internet.

What is a static IP address?

Most home broadband users will be using dynamic IP addresses. This means new addresses are assigned at regular intervals from a large pool of numbers.

A static IP address, on the other hand, is uniquely yours. It'll never change, so each time you go online you'll keep the same number. That means it's a lot easier for the outside world to communicate with your machine, making it possible to set up remote access to your computer, more reliable phone calls over the internet, improved online performance and more.

What type of IP address do I have?

Most home broadband packages use dynamic IP addresses, but getting a package that offers a static (or fixed IP address as they're also known) reveals a host of new benefits that really show you what your PC and the internet are really capable of.

The easiest way to find out whether you have a static or dynamic IP address is to do a search for your package using our broadband comparison calculator. Click on the package name to bring up details of the package including the type of IP address that's assigned to each customer.

Should you get a static IP?

 

Why get a static IP address?

There are many benefits to be gained from using a fixed IP address. A static IP address lets you:

  • Use remote access - With a static IP address you can connect to your PC no matter where you are in the world. Using programs such as pcAnywhere you can log into your work or home PC no matter where you are.
  • Run your own website - Installing web server software on your PC allows you to set up your own website. There are plenty of free programs available on the internet but make sure you do your research and check customer reviews before installing anything.
  • Receive emails direct to your PC - Using a static IP address lets you get rid of your Hotmail or Yahoo! account and set up your own email address with your choice of domain name. Again, this is especially useful if you run a small business. You will need to install specific mail server software to do this, but there are free programs available.
  • More reliable VOIP - Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) allows you to make telephone calls over the internet via services like Skype. A static IP address will make these services more reliable.
  • Run an FTP server - File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is an efficient and reliable way to transfer data from one computer to another, and you can send larger files this way than you can by email. Again, specific software must be installed in order for you to set up an FTP site, but this is easy to do and free software is available online. You might want to use an FTP site to share files, such as pictures, with your friends and family, or you might use it to enhance your business. Either way, once you've set up the site, clients or friends just need to log in to access, edit or uploads files.
  • Run a gaming server - For all those online gaming addicts, having a static IP address means that you can take your gaming to the next level. Many online games have an option for running your own server, allowing you to select your own settings and regulate who you let into your game.
  • Less downtime - Each time a dynamic IP address refreshes you run the risk of downtime from the server. While this is usually only for a very short time, it can wreak havoc on your gaming.
Static IP address

Are there any disadvantages?

While the benefits do outweigh the problems of having a static IP address, a few issues should be noted:

  • Hacker risk - Having the same IP address all the time means that once hackers have your number they can keep on attacking. Dynamic addresses change all the time making it more difficult to get into your PC. However, using a router and firewall will help to block access to your computer.
  • Keeping your connection running  - If you're using your PC as a server to run a website, receive emails, run an FTP site or a gaming server, you need to make sure that it's on all the time. Any time it isn't connected to the internet will result in lost access to sites running from your server.
  • FTP security  - If your clients are downloading sensitive or confidential files from your FTP site, you need to consider the security issues as files and passwords are in clear text and easier hack.

Are there alternatives to a static IP address?

Yes. If you don't want to change your package but want the benefits of having a fixed IP address you could try the software offered by No-IP.com. It allows you to name your PC so you don't need to know your IP address, and each time your dynamic address refreshes and changes, the software will update all your connections so that everything stays live.

This means that you get many of the benefits, without having to get a fixed IP address, and there's even a free version of the software - making it a great way to try out the benefits of a static IP address.

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