Why get a static IP address?

ByKim Staples
Woman in an officec

One grand feature of business broadband packages is the all-important static IP address. It’s infinitely useful, say the providers, for all kinds of vital business-y things. So, uh, what is it?

There's a reason static IPs are so common with business broadband - they really are that useful. Whether you want to install CCTV or run a website, a static IP is your best friend. Read on to find out why.

What's a static IP address?

An IP address - Internet Protocol address - is a number assigned by your provider that identifies your computer or device when it goes online. It works similarly to a home address or a phone number: when you use the internet, the network uses your IP address so it knows where to send data to.

Your IP address is usually dynamic, meaning it changes every time you turn on your computer. However, a static IP is different: it doesn't change. That number is fixed to your connection and your device.

So, why get a static IP?

A static IP basically means that the outside world can connect with your computer far more easily and reliably.

businessman at a laptop

Most of us don't need one - you can perform the vast majority of internet tasks with a dynamic IP just fine - but a static IP has some serious advantages, especially for business users. It means you can:

  • Access your PC from anywhere - A static IP makes it easier for you to remotely access your computer, so you can get hold of files, use programs, adjust your settings, and so on.
  • Host a website - You'll need a static IP if you want to host your own website, rather than have someone else's server host it.
  • Run a server - Any kind of server needs a static IP, not just one that hosts a website. You may also want a server for gaming, a domain name, or FTP to send and receive files more reliably.
  • Get direct emails - A static IP also lets you set up an email server, so you'll have more direct control over your email.
  • Run CCTV - Want CCTV for your business? You'll need a static IP for that too.
  • Make better VoIP calls - VoIP, or Voice over IP, is a way of making phone calls over the internet rather than through a phone line - Skype and Facetime are good examples. It's much more reliable when your IP is static. Read more about VoIP.
  • Enjoy less downtime - Whenever a dynamic IP refreshes, you run the risk of downtime. It's usually for a very short time, but if you're relying on a stable connection it can be havoc all the same.

However, there are a few downsides. You'll need some beefed-up security, for a start, because static IPs are more vulnerable to hacking and data tracking. Cost can be a problem, too - getting a static IP set up from your provider can cost extra.

How to get a static IP

A lot of business broadband providers, including BT and TalkTalk, chuck in a free static IP - though you may have to contact your provider to request it, or remember to sign up for one when you first take out your package. Some, like XLN, incur a small monthly charge for keeping a static IP.

If you've got regular non-business home broadband, on the other hand, it may cost you extra - if it's even available at all. Contact your provider to see if you can get one set up.

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