When you’re exploring your options for dedicated hosting there are a lot of terms and technologies you’re probably not familiar with. One of those being a dedicated IP address.

A dedicated IP is different than dedicated server hosting, but often the two are linked together. You can get a dedicated IP address without having to upgrade to dedicated hosting, but usually, a dedicated IP address will be paired with a dedicated hosting environment.

If that sounds a little confusing, don’t worry. Below we’ll break down what a dedicated IP address actually is, how it differs from a standard shared IP address, and finally how web hosting with a dedicated IP works, and why you might want it.

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What is a Dedicated IP Address?

First, we’ll look at what an IP address is. IP stands for Internet Protocol, so your IP address is your Internet Protocol Address. Essentially an IP address is a locator or identifier for any computer that’s connected to the internet.

Your web host’s server is technically a computer, so this computer will have an address that identifies and defines their location on the internet.  

These IP addresses are mapped to certain domain names. So, you can technically type an IP address in place of a domain name and actually land on the same website.

A dedicated IP address is an IP address that’s assigned to your website and your website alone. Sometimes this can be paired to your server environment too, but usually, it’s connected directly to your site.

On most hosting accounts the IP address that comes with your account will be a shared IP address. This IP address will be used by any website who’s sharing the server environment. So, in the case of shared hosting, this could be hundreds or thousands of other websites.


Dedicated vs Shared IP Address

The discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of dedicated and shared IP addresses is actually quite a lively debate. Part of this is due to the natural evolution of certain technologies. A lot of the big advantages that used to be attributed to using a dedicated IP address have disappeared. Now, using a dedicated IP can still be beneficial for certain users, but it just doesn’t carry the weight it once did.

The difference between a dedicated IP address and a shared IP address is pretty straightforward. Their names alone suggest the biggest difference. A shared IP address will be used by multiple websites who are also sharing the same server environment. While a dedicated IP address will be used by a single website.

You can think of a dedicated IP address like your cell phone. Chances are you have a unique number that you don’t share with anyone else. While a shared IP address could be like an old-school landline or home phone. When people call that number they could be looking for a certain person in your house, but anyone can answer the phone.

Here’s are the biggest ways that shared and dedicated IP addresses differ:

  • Email sending. Although not always the case, if you’re sending a ton of emails through your web host you could run into email deliverability issues. In some cases, your shared IP could be blacklisted. With a dedicated IP, you’ll have higher deliverability rates, and the chances of a blacklist are almost zero, unless you’re spamming people yourself.
  • SSL and site security. Dedicated IP addresses used to be completely necessary in order to do things like improve the security on your site. Simply put, you would need a dedicated IP for SSL certificates, which may be a necessity for some site owners. However, with new technology like SNI, this is no longer the case. Still, some hosting providers will require a dedicated IP for SSL.
  • Software requirements. This is also pretty niche, but some server software and scripts actually require that you utilize a dedicated IP address. This is usually related to processes that take a while to run or initiate. If you’re using a shared server, then this might terminate before the process is complete, making a dedicated IP address necessity.


How About Dedicated IP Addresses and SEO?

It’s still hotly debated whether or not using a dedicated IP address will give you an SEO boost. Like most things SEO-related there is no strict yes or no answer. If you’re using a low-quality host you can run into issues that could negatively impact your site, such as IP and DDoS attacks, association with spammy websites, and more. These will have a greater impact on your rankings than your IP address choice alone.

But, if you’re using a high-quality host you probably won’t run into these issues, even if you’re using a shared IP address. Overall, there’s no real correlation between using a dedicated IP address and improved rankings. According to Google, using a shared IP address won’t negatively impact your rankings.


The Benefits of a Dedicated IP Address

There are still many benefits of dedicated IP addresses. Overall, it depends upon your unique needs and the type of site you run. Depending on your provider you might be able to add a dedicated IP address to your shared hosting plan, but usually, if you can benefit from a dedicated IP address, then you can also benefit from a dedicated host.

Here are the main benefits your site will receive by adding a dedicated IP address to your current hosting:


1. View Your Site By IP Address Alone

One of the biggest advantages of using a dedicated IP address is that you can access your website without a domain name.

So, if your domain is taking a while to propagate, you don’t have to sit around and wait for the process to complete. Or, maybe you want to start building a website, but you haven’t done your domain name registration yet. With a dedicated IP you’ll be able to access your site and start building, then once you’ve settled on a domain name you can complete the process.

Accessing your site via FTP and building without a domain isn’t a common practice. But for some users, this will be an absolute necessity.


2. Reduce the Risk of IP Blacklisting

One thing that could happen to your IP, if you’re using a shared IP, is something called IP blacklisting. IP addresses can become blacklisted if there’s activity that can be classified as spam from that IP. If you’re using a shared IP the chances are higher that this could occur. With a dedicated IP address, the chances of this are basically zero.

This occurs most frequently with users who are sending emails through the host. All it takes is a single user to send spam emails from their domain and your website could be affected.


3. Run Your Own FTP Server

Some users might want to use FTP to share files with clients, friends, and family. With a dedicated IP, it’s much easier to run your own FTP server. FTP isn’t used very frequently when you’re running a small website. But, it can be a very effective way to transfer and give access to files within an organization.

With a dedicated IP, you’ll have easy access to your own FTP server.

You can even implement things like anonymous FTP, which allows users to access files that are publicly available. This lets you give people access without having to identify themselves to the server.


4. Avoid SSL Compatibility Issues

Like we mentioned above, a dedicated IP address is no longer completely necessary to install an SSL certificate on your site. For complete functionality, it’s recommended, but it’s not 100% necessary. Today, you can install multiple SSL certificates on a single server with Server Name Indication (SNI) technology. This allows the web hosting company to issue multiple certificates under a single shared IP address.

However, there are still some issues with SNI, it’s not a perfect solution. The biggest issue is an incompatibility with older browsers and operating systems like:

  • Windows XP and older versions of Internet Explorer
  • Safari running on Windows XP
  • Blackberry mobile, Windows mobile, and Opera mobile browsers

This isn’t the biggest issue in the world, but for those who want to ensure all their bases are covered, it’s a good idea to upgrade to a dedicated IP address.

There’s a chance your visitors might not even be using these browsers. If you want to know for sure you can fire up your Google Analytics account, and filter visitors by browser type. This will give you a better picture of what devices and browsers your users are using to access your site. This is useful knowledge to have unrelated to your choice of IP address.


5. Create Your Own Gaming Server

If you want to run your own gaming server for an online game, like making a Minecraft server, then you’ll need your own dedicated IP address. You’ll also need a dedicated server for games if you want to create your own or share with friends. Some of the biggest issues with online gaming revolve around lag and lack of bandwidth. With a dedicated IP server and address, you can offer the highest level of gaming possible.

It is possible to run a gaming server on a shared IP, but generally, it’s frowned upon. It will be much more difficult to configure your server and you’ll probably run into performance issues.


What is Dedicated IP Address Web Hosting?

By now you’re probably wondering how web hosting and dedicated IP addresses fit together?

Dedicated IP addresses aren’t synonymous with dedicated hosting, but they are typically offered together. To define dedicated hosting, you can assume that dedicated hosting packages will have dedicated IP addresses included as part of your package.

Sometimes you’ll even have the ability to use multiple dedicated IPs from a single dedicated server. This can be useful if you want to migrate multiple sites you own to a single dedicated server.

If you truly want to unlock the potential of using a dedicated IP address, then you’ll use it in tandem with a dedicated server. This will give you the benefits of using a dedicated server, on top of the benefits of a dedicated IP address.

Think of this as not only owning your own house but also owning an entire street, with no other properties around for miles. Think of everything you could do with all that freedom in a single service.


How a Dedicated Server and Dedicated IP Address Work Together

Using a dedicated server will provide your site with a lot of benefits. If you’ve been thinking about making the jump to a dedicated IP, then you’ll also want to consider if dedicated hosting is right for you as well:

You’ll get access to features like:

  • Incredible server performance with the ability to choose between HDD and SSD hard drives (depending on your website needs)
  • Improved data center protection protocols to keep your physical and digital server components safe.
  • Multiple server management options, such as cPanel or WHM, for easy server management and configuration.
  • A dedicated support team who’s there to help sort through technical issues, or answer your questions 24/7. Typically, hosting providers will prioritize those using dedicated hosting, or even have a separate support team entirely.
  • The ability to have single or multiple dedicated IP addresses. For almost every dedicated server a dedicated IP address is a common industry standard.

Basically, with a dedicated IP web host, you can get a lot more freedom with your hosting environment. Plus, you’ll get unparalleled levels of security, performance, reliability, and more.


Closing Thoughts

Overall, you can add a dedicated IP address to most hosting plans. But, usually dedicated hosting and a dedicated IP address work together. Not 100% of the time, but sites that need the added benefits of a dedicated IP will probably also require more advanced forms of web hosting.

Using a dedicated IP address doesn’t pack as many benefits as it used to, but for some types of website owners,  this service still might be a necessity.

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why you might want a dedicated IP address, and how web hosting with a dedicated IP can benefit your website. To compare cheap dedicated server hosting plans or to learn more about our web hosting services, check out our website or talk to a Hostgator representative today.

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