All devices connected to the Internet are identified by an IP address. "IP" stands for Internet Protocol. Just as each street address uniquely identifies a building or residence, an IP address or a range of IP addresses can identify a specific web server on the Internet.
A static IP address, in relation to web hosting, is an IP number that is assigned to a web server. There can be many static IP addresses assigned to one web server. In this case, "static" just means that they are fixed to that server. Web sites on the server can be assigned to the same IP address, some sites can be assigned to the same IP address while others are assigned to different IP addresses, or each web site can be assigned its own unique IP address (see graphic below).
What is the difference between a static IP address and a dedicated IP address? When a web site on a shared web server is assigned its own unique static IP address it is called a dedicated IP address. No other site on the server shares the address. To explain further, think of the web server as an apartment building. Each apartment in the building has its own address (apartment number) which uniquely identifies it from other apartments in the building. When a web site on a shared web server is assigned a dedicated IP address, the web site is uniquely identified from other sites on the server. You have probably heard the phrase "static IP address" used to define a dedicated IP address, however, static just means non-moving as compared to dynamic. Dynamic IPs are commonly used by Internet Access providers or ISPs, not by hosting companies on their web servers. The fact is, many web sites can be assigned to one static, non-moving IP address, that is why we use the term "dedicated IP address" instead when one IP number is assigned to only one web site.
Static IP and Dedicated IP Number Explained
So now you might ask, "Why is a dedicated IP address useful to me as the owner of a web site?" You may know a web server or, more specifically, a web site by its name (a domain name like WAASI.Net), but names aren't the real way different web servers and web sites are identified. When you use a browser to surf to a name, your browser has to first resolve and obtain the IP address for the domain name that you are requesting. The name is then translated into the IP address to which the domain name is assigned. This translation is done by a Domain Name Server (DNS), which is a computer that has lookup tables for domain names and their assigned IP addresses. Your request for the domain name is found in the DNS table and the name is converted to its IP address, then the corresponding web server (where the IP address is assigned) grabs your request and translates the IP address back to the domain name and displays the web site to you. The name-to-IP address conversion is quick and transparent to many people, however, technicians who monitor traffic across the Internet between web servers and other devices see only IP addresses, not domain names.
Technicians see IP addresses not domain names because they see traffic in the communication path after a request has been converted from a domain name into its IP address. For example, when you browse to a name, a technician sees your computer's IP address or your ISP's IP address making a request to the web server. The technician can't see who is making the request, they can only see the IP address that is assigned to you at the time of your request. The same thing happens when one web site makes a request to another web site. Again, the technician can't see who is making the request, they can only see the IP address that is assigned to the web site making the request. If the web site is on a shared IP address there could be hundreds of web sites sharing that address and knowing which one is making the request requires the ability to contact the hosting company for that IP address, which, more often than not, isn't as easy as it sounds.
One part of a technician's job is to monitor requests to the web servers that he or she manages and to identify and block those who are abusing the system. Here's an everyday example: You own a business and have a web site and your hosting provider puts your web site on a shared IP address along with other web sites on the server. An owner of another web site, on the server who shares the same IP address as you, abuses some policy whether knowingly or unknowingly (as in the case of a runaway script) in such a way that it adversely affects other web sites, web servers, or other devices on the Internet. The only immediate recourse that a technician on the receiving end of the abuse has is to block the IP address of the abuser. If your web site is on a shared IP address along with the abuser, your web site is blocked too. On the other hand, if your web site is on a dedicated IP address your web site will not be blocked and will not be affected by what others do.
We provide business-class web hosting services in which every Business Plan comes with a dedicated IP address. Your goal is to have a successful, ongoing, on-line business and our goal is to help you make that happen. Having a dedicated IP address is one part in achieving that goal.
Copyright © 2006 Western Association of Advanced Systems Integrators, Inc.
Last updated: 22nd February 2014