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What is a static IP address, and should you use one? 

Every device that connects to the internet has its own unique address so it can be found—much like the houses in your street. There are two types of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses: static and dynamic. Join us in exploring why IP addresses are important and how to protect yours from hackers, plus which type might be better for you. Whatever you choose, be sure to add a virtual private network, like Avira Phantom VPN, for an invaluable layer of online encryption and anonymity.  


What is an IP address? 

Before we leap into IP addresses being static or dynamic, are you sure you know what an IP address is at all? If you answered “Of course! It’s a unique address that identifies a device on the internet or a local network!” you’d be right. It’s like a street address for your computer—a type of virtual “home” where mail (data) can be delivered to your door via the world-wide super-highway known as the web, without ending up at your neighbor’s house instead.  

IP stands for “Internet Protocol” and refers to the set of rules that determine the format of data when it’s sent via the internet or a local network. Every internet-enabled device has an IP address and it’s a string of seemingly random numbers (or numbers and letters, depending on the protocol—more on this later). But there is a method to the madness! There are two segments that make up an IP address and these include valuable information about your connection. E.g.:  

192.168. XX.XX: The first half of the address identifies your network, which is usually your internet provider.  

XX.XX.162.94: The second part refers to your host and the machines in your network. Remember that not every device on your local network will have the same IP address.  

Hang on! If IP addresses are a series of numbers, why are web addresses actual words? Behind the scenes, IP addresses are numbers because computers work well with these, but people find names more memorable. That’s why these numbers are converted into words (or text formats) using the Domain Name System (DNS). Instead of typing in a series of numbers, you can simply go to, for example. Thank goodness.  

Here’s what happens when you type a URL, such as, into your browser: Your device contacts the DNS server run by your internet service provider (ISP), retrieves the DNS address for the website, and then makes the connection. The DNS is like a giant global address book and it’s very useful. Without it, you’d have to remember numerical IP address sequences like The internet would be much less fun and much less accessible! 

You may also have heard of a TCP and are wondering how it’s different from an IP? TCP stands for Transmission Control Protocol. While the IP is responsible for finding an online address, TCP carries out the data delivery. So, it’s like a postman (TCP) delivering an addressed envelope (data) to your home (IP). Now let’s get back to IP addresses. There are two types: static and dynamic. Each has its own specific roles, strengths, and weaknesses. Let’s explore the differences so you can choose what’s right for your needs and circumstances. Perhaps the one that sits still is a good place to start… 

What is a static IP address? 

The word “static” means unmoving or unchanging so it’s a great descriptive choice of name. When an IP address is static, it means that the series of numbers that identify that device will never change (until that device breaks, is decommissioned, or your network architecture changes). Servers and other business equipment usually have this type of address so they’re easier to find. Static IP addresses must be assigned by Internet Service Providers and usually incur fees. 

How can I set a static IP address? 

To get a static IP, you’ll have to request one from your ISP. Then you’ll need to make some adjustments in your Windows settings to complete the set up. Basic knowledge of TCP/IP protocols and admin rights are essential so it’s not for the technically faint-hearted. Plus, depending on the nature of your service agreement, your ISP may not even agree to give you one! Let’s assume they’ve said “yes” though, and you’re wielding your brand-new static IP address. Here’s one way of entering it manually on Windows 11. You can also use Command Prompt, PowerShell, Control Panel, and (as we’ve done below) Settings: 

  1. Open Settings on your computer. 
  2. Select Network and internet. 
  3. Select your current connection, such as Wi-Fi.
    In Settings, the Network & internet window is open, and we see that Wi-Fi is toggled to “on”.
  4. Choose Manage known networks > Properties > IP settings.
    We see a list of options in the Network & internet settings window. “Manage known networks” is highlighted.
  5. Select Edit. 
  6. Click on Manual. 
  7. Select IPv4 and then switch it to “On.” 
  8. Input the static IP address.  
  9. In the subnet prefix length field, enter 24. 
  10. Type ipconfig/all into the window and enter your gateway information. 
  11. Click Save. 

For further information on changing your IP settings on Windows 11,10, and earlier versions, see Microsoft Support here. 

What is a dynamic IP address and what makes it different? 

The opposite of static is dynamic, and these IP addresses are exactly that: They change, sometimes suddenly. Dynamic addresses are assigned by Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) servers as and when they’re needed.  

Let’s sum up what we’ve learnt so far: A static IP address doesn’t change unless you change it yourself. A dynamic IP address is always changing so it can’t come with you as you move about. If you take your laptop to an airport lounge and use the Wi-Fi there, your IP address will be different. “Dyna” is derived from the Greek word for “power”, so sitting still is not in the nature of a dynamic IP! Is one or the other better? There’s no perfect, one-size-fits-all solution. Generally, static IP addresses are more likely to be used for businesses, while a dynamic IP address is most often used for a home network. If you’re a casual internet user, it won’t matter much as both let you connect to the internet. 

What are the advantages of a static IP address? 

There are many benefits to using a static IP, particularly if you need reliable connectivity. Here we’ll list the most common: 

Easier, safer remote access: A static IP address helps you work remotely via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or other remote access program. A VPN, like free Avira Phantom VPN, directs your internet traffic via a virtual tunnel, helping you browse more anonymously and privately.  


More reliable communication: Do you regularly use voice and video communications like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)? Then a static IP address is a good idea as it’s great for devices that need consistent and reliable network communication. No-one likes to accidentally drop out of a teleconference!  

Easier geo-location: When a computer has a static IP address, it can be matched with a more precise physical location. This is particularly important for weather services, for example, so you’ll get the weather report for your location rather than the town nearby. Do you use Tinder and want to be matched with people close by? A static IP can help.   

Better DNS support: This is the Domain Name System we mentioned above and is basically the phone book of the internet. It connects web browsers and websites. Since a static IP doesn’t change, DNS servers find these websites easier to set up and manage.  

Server and email hosting: A static IP address isn’t required to host a server (like a web or email server), but it can simplify the setup process. If a company has a static IP address, it usually means that it’s faster and easier for customers to find them online.  

Possibly faster upload-download speeds: The speed of a static IP can be noticeably faster than a device with a dynamic IP, but it does depend on your network. If you’re a broadband user with a high-speed connection, you’ll notice a bigger difference than someone crawling along with a DSL connection.  

If you need online services that are more consistently available and reliable, then a static IP address may be for you. Do you download/upload a lot of files and data? You’ll want to compare static and dynamic speeds. And if you set up and host servers, then a dynamic IP should feature high up on your to-do list.  

Are there disadvantages to using a static IP address? 

Not for hackers. They tend to love static IPs. Here’s why—plus a few other disadvantages. This type of IP address…: 

Is more vulnerable to cybercriminals: Hackers can pinpoint your server’s location on the internet, which makes it simpler for them to launch an attack. They can also intercept your online traffic. A reputable online security solution, like Avira Free Security, is essential to helping keep you, your identity, and data safer from online threats.   


Is easier to track: You can be tracked more easily via your internet connection because using a static IP address is like waving a flag online that proclaims: “Here I am!”.  If you want to keep your data and browsing history private, this isn’t for you.  

Requires manual configuration: Imagine you work in the IT department of a large organization and must manually configure hundreds of devices. It will be expensive and time-consuming but at least you’ll be a pro in action. On the other hand, if you lack the technical skills, leave this can of worms unopened.   

Is more expensive: ISPs tend to charge more for static IPs, particularly if you use a consumer plan. While business ISP plans usually include static IP, they’re generally more expensive options, so do the math before signing up.  

Now that you hopefully have an excellent idea of the benefits and drawbacks of a static IP address, let’s leap straight into dynamic IPs.  

What are the pros and cons of a dynamic IP address? 

Life is rarely black and white and that’s also true of the highs and lows of a dynamic IP address. 

It’s automatic, easier, and cheaper: The DHCP server automatically assigns a device the next available IP address, so you won’t need to do a thing. Relax—it’s all happening behind the scenes. You’ll also save money because you won’t be charged extra.  

You’ll probably have better online and physical security: Here’s another reason to relax. Networked equipment that uses a dynamic IP address is harder for hackers to target. You can also enhance your online security with a free VPN. Plus, an ever-changing IP address makes it much harder for a cybercriminal or snoop to find out where you’re located.  

You get unlimited IP addresses: Each device gets a fresh new IP address all the time for fewer conflicts (imagine different devices competing for the same address?). Dynamic IPs can be changed, swapped, re-used… 

If you don’t want to worry about the hassle of configuring an IP address, nor do you fancy the extra costs, a dynamic IP will be the way forward for you. It’s not all a bed or roses though. Watch out for these thorns:  

Less reliable remote access and geo-location: Dynamic IPs can make it harder for remote access software to connect. Plus, your dynamic address won’t reflect your real-world location, which is handy for online security but more annoying if you want highly targeted information online.  

Potentially less uptime: Sometimes your ISP can’t assign you a dynamic IP address which may interrupt your internet connection. Companies won’t appreciate their website being knocked off, however briefly.   

DNS won’t like you (as much): Since the address is always changing, DNS services don’t work as well with dynamic IPs. You could consider Dynamic DNS services, but they’re usually expensive and complex.   

In a nutshell, if you’re a ‘normal’ consumer looking for a more cost-effective, secure, and simpler option, a dynamic IP address is the way to go.  

What type of IP do I have? Find out fast.  

Are you sure you know which type of IP address you have? Now that you know the difference, you may be curious. Find out by clicking on your Start Menu. Then type cmd in the search box and press enter. The black and white Command Prompt window will open. Type ipconfig /all and press enter. Look out for IPv4 or IPv6 —that’s your IP address.  

You can also use a free IP online lookup tool. There are many resources such as or, where you can enter an IP address and search for the free public registry results. These free tools can offer accurate results but beware that some information might be outdated.  

IPv4 or IPv6? What’s the difference? 

Both refer to internet protocols but IPv4 uses a 32-bit address while IPv6 uses a 128-bit address. There are other little differences: An IPv4 address is numerical with 4 fields separated by a dot (.). An IPv6 address is newer, alphanumeric, and has 8 fields separated by a colon (:). 

In practice, this means that IPv6 offers 1.028 times more addresses than IPv4. So, IPv4 consists of approximately 4 billion addresses and IPv6 offers 320 undecillion (2128) addresses! That’s why IPv6 was created: It’s gradually replacing IPv4 to accommodate the increasing number of networks worldwide. We were in danger of running out of IP addresses otherwise (and who knows? We may again in the future!). 

Protect your IP address, whether it’s static or dynamic 

Whatever IP address you use, those trying to track you will be able to locate you with some degree of accuracy. If online privacy and anonymity are a priority, a VPN is essential in helping you evade snoops and online bad guys. By routing data traffic in an encrypted format through a virtual tunnel, it can also help stop your ISP from knowing what you do online. As the name implies, Avira Phantom VPN helps you navigate digital worlds like a virtual ghost for more secure, private, and less restricted online access.  


Microsoft and the Windows logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the U.S. and other countries 

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Freelance Cybersecurity Writer
Nicola Massier-Dhillon is an experienced cybersecurity and technology writer. Nicola spent many years as a senior copywriter and creative lead in marketing agencies, crafting compelling content and campaigns for major tech brands like HP, Dell, and Microsoft. She originally hales from Namibia and is a passionate advocate for the conservation of wild habitats--also putting her words to work for charities, eco-tourism, and healthcare. Nicola spends her time looking after her (wild) twins, rescue cats, and a crested gecko called Giles.
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