When the time comes to choosing a hosting provider you’re going to have a lot of decisions to make. Finding the right type of hosting and a quality hosting provider along will take a lot of work.

As you’re sorting through different hosts there are a lot of different features you’ll come across. One of those that bring about the most confusion is a dedicated IP address.

You’re probably wondering what is a dedicated IP address? And will using one actually benefit my website?

Learn what a dedicated IP address actually is, the dedicated IP hosting benefits, and how it relates to dedicated server hosting, so you can make the best decision for your new website.

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What Is an IP Address?

Before we jump into dedicated IP addresses, it’s important to understand what an IP address actually is. You’re probably already familiar with what a domain name is, but IP addresses, not so much.

An IP address is a unique string of numbers that are used to identify a computer that’s connected to the internet. In the case of an online IP address, this computer is a server provided by your hosting company.

You can think of your domain name as the address of your website, while an IP address identifies the location and type of device that’s being used to access the internet.

IP addresses are part of the Domain Name System (DNS). How domain names work is they are mapped out to various IP addresses. When a domain name is typed into an address bar your ISP will look up the associated IP addresses and display the correct website. In the case of a shared IP address, the web host will forward the domain request to the proper site.

While if your web hosting is with a dedicated IP address you can literally input the IP address into your web browser and you’ll be taken to the correct site. The IP address and associated domain are synonymous.


What is a Dedicated IP Address?

A dedicated IP address is an IP address that you have sole access to. Since IP addresses are tied to a specific physical server and you have sole ownership of that server, then the IP address is yours to do whatever you wish.

In some cases, you can have a dedicated IP address and shared hosting on the same account. This is rarer as the hosting provider will have to configure certain software, but it is possible. This will enable you to take advantage of the benefits of having a dedicated IP address while remaining on a cheaper hosting plan. While there are cheap dedicated server hosting plans available, it’s still wise to do extensive research before settling on a specific one.

However, the most common usage of a dedicated IP address is being paired with a dedicated server. With a dedicated server, you have complete control over your server environment. Typically, when you have a dedicated server you’ll have an associated IP address. This can be used for a single website or multiple sites that you’re hosting on a single dedicated server. Your web hosting provider might also be able to configure multiple dedicated IP addresses on a single dedicated server as well.


How Do Dedicated and Shared IP Address Differ?

The most common type of IP address is a shared IP address. In this section, we will answer the question what is shared hosting and discuss how these two differ. This is mostly because shared hosting is the most commonly used type of web hosting. With shared hosting you’re sharing server space with a multitude of different users. This helps to keep costs low, while still offering you enough server resources for your site to run.

When defining dedicated hosting, you have access to the resources of an entire physical server. You won’t be sharing these server resources with any other users. This includes your IP address.

On a shared hosting environment you’re also sharing your IP address with any other websites on the same server. Depending on your host this could end up being hundreds or even thousands of other sites. With a shared host your host has certain forwarding technology in place that ensures the user will be able to access the correct site.

Like a dedicated server, with a dedicated IP address you’re the only person using this IP address.


Dedicated IP Benefits

A dedicated IP address usually won’t make or break the success of your site. However, it can offer some advantages to certain kinds of website owners.

Here are some of the biggest benefits you’ll receive when using a dedicated IP:


1. Improve Email Deliverability

If you’re like most website owners, you’re probably sending emails with a branded email address. Instead of using a classic Gmail address your email address will look something like james@newdomain.com. If you’re a business owner this can help to create a higher level of credibility.

However, if you’re using a shared IP address, then you could run into email issues. The biggest one being deliverability issues. This means that when you send an email you can’t be sure that it’ll actually end up in the recipient’s inbox.

If another user on the same shared IP address is sending a high volume of emails that get classified as spam, then you’ll get this same classification. Instead of landing in the inbox, your messages will get sent straight to spam.

With a dedicated IP, you’re the only user who will be sending emails via this IP address. This can be a great way to protect your reputation while ensuring that your emails go where they’re supposed to go.

If you’re sending a very high volume of emails, then you might want to use a third-party email provider from the start. These services are set up in a way that will support you in sending massive quantities of emails while ensuring a high level of deliverability, and protection against IP blacklisting.  


2. Greater Server Control

With a dedicated IP address, you have a much higher level of server access. Instead of simply relying on a tool like cPanel to manage your server, you’ll be able to remotely manage your server, upload files, create a file sharing server, and a lot more.

You’ll also be able to do things like creating your own dedicated gaming server. If you want to host your own online games, create custom gaming environments, or have the ability to play games with a very high level of performance, then a dedicated server for games is the way to go.

Usually, if you want this level of server control and customization you’ll also be pairing your dedicated IP address with a dedicated server as well. To get the most from your server environment you’ll want to be using a dedicated server as well. It’ll be very difficult to unlock this level of customization while using a shared server environment.


3. View Website Via IP Alone

A dedicated IP address gives you the ability to access your website via IP address. This means you could technically build out and view your website without even purchasing and setting up a domain name.

This can be useful if you can’t decide on a domain name registration, but want to start building a website. Or, you don’t want to wait for the domain to propagate before you start building out your website.

Not every user will demand a feature like this, but it can offer you more flexibility, especially if you’re running into issues with your domain name.


4. Potential SSL Requirement

Installing an SSL certificate on your site is now becoming a requirement. Browsers like Google Chrome are now marking sites as insecure if they don’t have the encrypted HTTPS connection, which can be enabled by installing an SSL certificate.

An SSL certificate will elevate the level of security across your site by encrypting any information that’s exchanged between a user’s web browser and a your server. This is a must-have for sites that exchange sensitive information, like for those building an eCommerce site.

You used to need a dedicated IP address for an SSL certificate. However, today there’s a technology called Server Name Identification (SNI), which allows those who are using a shared IP to install an SSL certificate.

However, not every host will support this technology, so you still might need to upgrade to a dedicated IP address. For higher level SSL certificates, you still might need to use a dedicated IP address.


5. Potential Application Requirement

If you’re running any custom software on your server then you might require a dedicated IP address. Some types of server software will require a dedicated IP in order to function properly.

If you’re using a shared IP address the page might re-load while the script is still running. This will cause the script to malfunction and your website or server might not function properly.

If your website requires a custom server setup in order to function properly, then you might need a dedicated IP to aid in this functionality.


6. Direct FTP Access

Some users might require a greater level of website access. Instead of having to log in via cPanel, you can remotely access your server via FTP. If you need to do this on a regular basis, you’ll quickly realize the benefit of having direct FTP access. You can also create an FTP server that lets your users download files anonymously. This can allow you to quickly share files with friends, family, or even site visitors.

Most website owners won’t really need to run an IP-based FTP server. But, for users who demand this feature, a dedicated IP is a must-have.


Do You Need a Dedicated IP Address?

Not every type of website owner will benefit from using a dedicated IP address. Here are the biggest reasons you’ll want to upgrade to a dedicated IP address:

  • You want to view your website by IP address alone
  • Your host requires a dedicated IP to install an SSL certificate
  • You want to regularly access your site via FTP
  • You want to customize your server environment, like a gaming server

Using a dedicated IP address doesn’t automatically mean you’re using a dedicated host. You can still have a dedicated IP address while using a shared server, or you can have an IP address you’re sharing between a few of your own sites while using a dedicated server too.

Overall, the biggest reason you’ll probably want a dedicated IP address is to install an SSL certificate. Your hosting provider might not require it, but if they do, then it’s worth the upgrade.


What is Dedicated IP Hosting?

Dedicated IP hosting is any form of hosting that utilizes a dedicated IP address. This can be either a shared hosting environment with a dedicated IP address, a dedicated IP server with a dedicated IP address, or even something like cloud or VPS hosting with a dedicated IP address.

You’ll typically find a dedicated IP address as a feature that’s bundled with most dedicated hosting packages. The chances are high that if you’re thinking about upgrading to a dedicated IP for the advantages highlighted above, then you can also benefit from using dedicated hosting as well. By using the combination of a dedicated server and a dedicated IP address you’ll get the most benefits for your site. A dedicated server can offer you very high levels of performance, security, control, and customization. However, a dedicated server will require a higher level of technical proficiency in order to setup, optimize, and maintain the server properly.

Your host might be able to add a dedicated IP address to a shared hosting package, but it does require certain software and technology that your host might not support.


Is a Dedicated IP Right for You?

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what a dedicated IP address is, how it can benefit your website, and how it relates to dedicated IP hosting.

Most website owners probably won’t need to upgrade to a dedicated IP address, at least right away. As your site grows and you demand higher performance from your host, along with more niche features, then it might be a worthwhile add-on.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your site, then you’ll probably get the most value in upgrading to a dedicated server that comes equipped with single or multiple dedicated IP addresses.

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.