While humans identify websites and servers by their names, computers and other internet-enabled devices identify them by a unique string of numbers called IP addresses. IP addresses are of different types with different attributes, which make them fit for different purposes. This article will examine two types of IP addresses: shared IP addresses and dedicated IP addresses. Before we delve into them, let’s examine how IP addresses work.
How do IP addresses work?
Building a network of computers and other devices, no matter how small, requires an identification system to facilitate communication among the devices on the network. For instance, if you want to connect your computer, smartphone, tablet, and camera to a network, each device needs a unique identifier that distinguishes it from others. The Internet Protocol (IP) address is that identifier.
The IP address is a string of numbers separated by periods. In our example network, each device will have a unique number by which it is identified. Thus, the server can tell where each request comes from and which device is waiting to receive which results.
Also read: IP Geolocation Database Definition
What is a shared IP address?
Shared IP addresses are addresses assigned to multiple users with different domains. If you are using a shared IP, you’re sharing that IP address with many other users, typically up to 100. This shared usage can have its benefits which we will examine next.
What are the benefits of shared IP?
The benefits of using a shared IP address include the following:
- Lower price: Shared IPs are often less costly than dedicated IPs. This reduced cost is because the user will share the costs with other users, which can be convenient for new businesses with limited budgets.
- Reputation sharing: If you share an IP address with bigger domains that have built a good reputation, their reputation may rub off on you.
- Easy setup: Shared address sharing sometimes translates into host sharing. In such instances, setting up can be as easy as clicking a button to install preloaded software.
Risks of shared IP addresses
When you use a shared IP address, you are at risk of the following:
- Shared exposure: Since you’re sharing an IP with others, a successful hack on any of the others can leave you exposed to the same hackers. Hence, you’re more vulnerable on a shared IP.
- Reduced performance: Sharing IP often translates into sharing server resources with others. This shared usage can put pressure on the resources, leading to a significant impact on performance.
- Shared reputation: Sharing an IP address can also leave you vulnerable to the reputation of fellow users. If any one of them suffers a dip in reputation, it would be challenging to distance yourself from the impact. If any user gets blacklisted for any malicious action, you get blacklisted too.
What is a dedicated IP address?
IP addresses assigned to a single domain are called dedicated IP addresses. Unlike shared IPs, only one website can use these IPs. This exclusivity allows access to the website by its URL name and IP address. And, together with a dedicated VPN, you can create remote access to your company’s resources.
Also read: What Is SD-WAN (Software-Defined WAN) and Top 10 SD-WAN Solutions
What are the benefits of dedicated IP?
A dedicated IP address offers the following benefits:
- Increased server control: Since you’re not sharing your IP with anyone, you have greater server control. You can set up direct FTP to share files easily from your websites, among other things.
- Greater security: A dedicated IP address offers increased security for your data. Initially, one could only encrypt a domain with an SSL certificate on a dedicated IP. While that’s no longer the case, a dedicated IP still offers better security than shared IPs. When used together with a VPN, you can grant team members located anywhere remote access to company resources.
- Better Reputation: On a shared IP address, you’re vulnerable to the misdemeanors of other users since you can’t control their actions. On a dedicated IP address, you’re completely in control of the reputation you build.
- Easy identification and resolution of network issues: Shared IP addresses make it practically impossible to distinguish the activities of each user. This anonymity can make troubleshooting quite arduous. A dedicated IP makes it easier to trace, identify and resolve issues.
Risks of dedicated IP addresses
The possible downsides to using dedicated IP addresses include the following:
- Additional expenses: Using a dedicated IP address comes with additional costs. You often have to pay extra to your service provider for that service.
- Reduced security: A dedicated IP address is not as secure as a shared IP address. Since you’re the only one using a dedicated IP address, it is easier to trace your activity to the account linked to the address.
- Sole responsibility: Unlike a shared IP address allowing you to leverage other users’ efforts, a dedicated IP address depends on you only. Whatever you put into it determines the results you get.
Differences between shared and dedicated IP
The major difference between these two types of IP addresses is the number of users. While only one domain can use a dedicated IP, shared IPs can be used by many domains. Also, you can access a website with a dedicated IP by using its IP address, while you can access a website with a shared IP only by its domain name. The implications of these differences have already been discussed.
A shared IP address and a dedicated IP address are two types of IP addresses with relevant strengths and weaknesses that make them suitable for specific purposes. The one you decide to use depends on your budget and the goals you want to achieve.