First things first: what’s an IP address? An IP, i.e. Internet Protocol address is a sequence of numbers that is used to identify devices and websites on the internet. In the case of the former, each device that goes online has a unique IP address (a unique sequence of numbers) which allows websites, internet authorities, and even government bodies to recognize its identity when it accesses content online. So, all devices – including computers, smartphones, tablets, and servers, have their own IP address which is used for identification.
In addition to devices, websites also have IP addresses through their servers. Websites, in fact, are retrieved through their IP addresses. So when you enter a domain in the search bar of Google or any other search engine, the website whose IP address is associated with that domain (in the global Domain Name System) is retrieved.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is kind of like a phone book or address book in that way. It’s used to simplify our online experience. It’s much easier to type in a domain name rather than keep logs of the IP addresses of websites we want to visit. And making the connection between domain and IP takes only a second!
So, the IP address which is associated with your website is the address of the server where your site’s files are stored. If you’re using a dedicated IP address, typing the number sequence into the search bar will directly retrieve your address. If you’re using a shared IP address (with other websites), it doesn’t exactly work like that.
In any case, there are two types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 came first – but they soon ran out of those (considering the fact that there are 2 billion websites online today, this shouldn’t come as a surprise). In any case, choosing between a dedicated and shared IP works with both types.
A dedicated IP address is an Internet Protocol address that will be unique to your website and that only you will be using. Unlike in the case of shared IPs, there won’t be any other websites associated with your IP if it’s dedicated to your website. As we mentioned above, if you type in your IP address in the search bar, your website will pop up – if your IP is dedicated. When you’re choosing a hosting plan, you’ll find that some types of hosting offer a dedicated IP with the plan, while others may allow you to purchase it for an additional fee.
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between dedicated and shared IP addresses and dedicated and shared hosting plans. Technically, you could have a dedicated hosting plan (one that uses a dedicated server), but you may be using it to host multiple websites. This means that all the websites you’ll host on the same server, dedicated to you as a user, will have a shared IP address. At the same time, you may sign up for a shared hosting plan (that uses a shared server) but want to have a dedicated IP address for your website. This is also possible, but not all hosts have the necessary configuration to offer it.
Some of the benefits that you only get from a dedicated IP address include:
An easy way to underline the difference between a shared IP and a dedicated IP is to look at the difference between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. As we’ve already mentioned, web hosting providers generally offer, among other options, two types of hosting: shared and dedicated.
Shared hosting is when a single server is used to host multiple websites owned by multiple users. This means that the resources offered by the server – including storage space and bandwidth – are distributed amongst the websites. At the same time, all the websites hosted on that particular server share the same IP address. This is fine for most users, but can sometimes cause trouble as well – and we’ll go over that in the next section.
Dedicated hosting is when all the resources of a server, as well as the management of the server, are in the hands of a single user. The user can choose how many websites to host on that server, but all its resources are at their disposal. For tech-savvy users and large companies, this gives them a lot of flexibility in terms of server configuration (in addition to more resources).
If you have a dedicated server, you may choose to host one or more websites on it. That one website, or those several websites, will have a dedicated IP that isn’t shared with any other user. Large websites and e-commerce stores generally prefer to have a dedicated IP so that they can ensure the safety of their IP’s reputation and security.
An important question surrounding dedicated IPs is who needs a dedicated IP? Why and when would you need one? In addition to the general list of benefits we gave above, there are a couple of perks and advantages of using a dedicated IP, especially if you fall in one of the following categories:
Hopefully, we’ve been able to help you shed some light on what dedicated IP is and who needs it. In general, dedicated IPs are best suited for high-traffic websites and e-commerce stores that can’t compromise on security. However, most small and medium-sized websites don’t really need a dedicated IP to be successful.