Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses

Is one more secure than the other?

By
&
Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Aug 25, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Aug 25, 2021

In researching Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, you may have come across words like “static” and “dynamic,” but what do these terms mean, and which type is better? On this page, we’re breaking down the differences, similarities, pros, and cons of static and dynamic IP addresses. You’ll find out which one is best for you and, most importantly, how to get it when you’re connected to the internet on your home network and beyond.

Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses

First, let’s define our terms.

What Is a Static IP Address?

A static IP address is an IP address that doesn’t change. Typically, users enter static IP addresses manually; the other option is the internet service provider (ISP) assigning it.

Pros
  • They have better DNS support.
  • They work well with VPNs.
  • They’re better for anything requiring VoIP protocol, like video chat.
  • They’re more reliable for geolocation services, like changing your location on Tinder.
Cons
  • They’re more hackable than dynamic IP addresses.
  • They cost more than dynamic IP addresses.
  • They make users easier to locate.

What Is a Dynamic IP Address?

A dynamic IP address is an IP address that changes, meaning it’s active for a certain duration and then expires. Unlike static addresses, dynamic IP addresses are assigned by a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server.

Pros
  • They make it harder for anyone to follow you around online.
  • There’s no need to enter an IP address manually.
  • They’re more affordable than static IP addresses.
Cons
  • Websites won’t necessarily be able to fill in your information automatically.
  • They don’t work well with DNS web servers.
  • Geolocation data may not be accurate.

Similarities

Both static and dynamic IP addresses show your location, but just your region and ZIP code. If you’re wondering what someone can do with your IP address, know that without your personally identifiable information, they can’t do much.

Differences

While static IP addresses remain the same, dynamic addresses change. Additionally, static addresses are created manually, while dynamic addresses are typically assigned by a DHCP.

When They’re Needed

Static IP addresses are not usually necessary, except with websites that need to remember your IP address.1 In most cases, dynamic IP addresses make more sense.

Which Is Best for You

While static IP addresses are better for businesses with their own websites and internet services, dynamic addresses are better for consumers using the internet for personal reasons.2

How to Get Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses

To get a static IP address, you’ll need to enter it manually in your device’s settings. With dynamic IP addresses, you don’t need to take any action, as they’re assigned automatically. Most VPNs, for example, will change your IP address every time you connect to a server.

All About IP Addresses

Now, let’s take a step back and talk about IP addresses in general, from what they are to how to find and change them.

What Is an IP Address?

An IP address is an Internet Protocol address, or a device’s identifying number. IP addresses are associated with a network or the devices on a network, letting devices communicate in and out of the network. Since IP addresses reveal the device’s region and ZIP code, hackers can use them to track users’ physical locations.

How Can I See Which Type of IP Address I Have?

How to see which type of IP address you have depends on your operating system. Once you find your IP address, restart your computer and look again to see if it changed or not. If it’s the same, it’s static. If it changed, it’s dynamic.

However, the first step is to find your original IP address.

TIP: To find your IP address without using your settings, use our IP address lookup tool.

To find your IP address on a Mac:

  1. Open the System Preferences.
  2. Click “Network.”
  3. Choose your Wi-Fi network.
  4. Click “Advanced.”
  5. Click “TCP/IP.”
  6. See your IP address under “IPv4.”

To find your IP address on a computer (Windows 10):

  1. Open your taskbar.
  2. Select “Wi-Fi Network.”
  3. Choose the network you’re on currently.
  4. Choose “Properties.”
  5. Look under “IPv4 Address.”

To find your IP address on an Android:

  1. Click “Settings.”
  2. Click “About.”
  3. Select “Status.”
  4. Select “IP Address.”

Finally, to see your iPhone’s IP address:

  1. Click “Settings.”
  2. Click “Wi-Fi.”
  3. Under the lowercase ‘i,’ click on “Network.”
  4. See your IP address under “IPv4 Address.”

How Do I Change and Protect My IP Address?

There are a few ways to change your IP address. Our favorite way is to use a VPN, but we’ll detail some other methods as well.

In case you don’t already know, VPNs are virtual private networks that not only change your IP address but also encrypt your web traffic. They will replace your current IP address with another one that’s either dynamic or static, depending on the VPN. To set up a VPN:

  1. Download a VPN app or browser extension to your device.
  2. Log in.
  3. Connect to a server.

Another way to hide your IP address is to use Tor as your web browser. It will encrypt your IP address three times along with your web activity. You can download the Tor app from the Tor Project website.

FYI: The Tor browser is available on macOS, Linux, Android, and Windows devices.

The last option is proxy servers, which hide only your IP address. We recommend VPNs over proxy servers, as proxies only encrypt your IP address, not your web activity. Still, here’s how to get a proxy server across your devices.

On a Mac:

  1. Open the Safari app.
  2. Click “Preferences.”
  3. Click “Advanced.”
  4. Click “Change Settings.”
  5. A new window will open up. Update the settings with the information that your network administrator provided.

On a PC:

  1. Open your Administrative Template.
  2. Click “Windows Components.”
  3. Click “Data Collection and Preview Builds.”
  4. Select “Configure Authenticated Proxy Usage.”
  5. Click “Enable Authenticated Proxy Usage.”
  6. Click “Apply.”

On an iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open your settings.
  2. Select “Wi-Fi.”
  3. Select “Network Information.”
  4. Scroll to “HTTP Proxy Section.”
  5. Click “Manual.”
  6. Click “Edit Proxy Settings.”
  7. Turn “Authentication” on.
  8. Return to the Wi-Fi Selection window to save your changes.

On an Android:

  1. Open your settings.
  2. Click “Wi-Fi.”
  3. Click your network name.
  4. Choose “Modify Network.”
  5. Select “Advanced.”
  6. Select “Manual.”
  7. Enter your hostname and proxy port.
  8. Click “Save.”

IPv4 vs. IPv6 Addresses

Aside from static vs. dynamic, you may have heard about IPv4 vs. IPv6 addresses. Both are Internet Protocol versions, but most internet providers use IPv4, an address based on 32 binary bits. Unfortunately, IPv4 addresses will run out eventually, and when that time comes, coders will change to IPv6, which isn’t backward compatible with IPv4. Unlike IPv4, IPv6 addresses won’t run out.

Recap

That’s all we have about static and dynamic IP addresses, but to learn more about IP addresses and VPNs in general, visit our VPN how-to hub.

FAQs

We’re not done just yet. Read on for our answers to the most common questions about static and dynamic IP addresses.

  • Is it better to have a static or dynamic IP?

    A static IP address is better for businesses, DNS servers, and VoIP protocols, while dynamic IP addresses are better for consumers and anyone who doesn’t want to pay for an IP address.

  • Is a static IP address more secure?

    No, dynamic IP addresses are more secure than static IP addresses because it’s harder to track someone online if their IP address keeps changing.

  • What is a dynamic IP address?

    A dynamic IP address is one that changes periodically. It is assigned by a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server and expires after a certain period.

  • Do I need a static IP address?

    If you are a business and need better DNS support or compatibility with VoIP, then you need a static IP address. However, if you are using the internet for personal reasons, you don’t need a static IP address, and dynamic will be better.

Citations
  1. Google Fiber Help. (2021). Static vs. dynamic IP addresses.
    support.google.com/fiber/answer/3547208?hl=en

  2. Avast Academy. (2021). Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses.
    avast.com/c-static-vs-dynamic-ip-addresses#topic-2