When you’re searching around, trying to find the best type of hosting for your website you’re going to have a lot of decisions to make. But, what makes your choice even more difficult is the often confusing terminology that’s associated with each type of hosting.

One of the things that can trip up a lot of people is a dedicated IP address. What is it? Do you need one? Will it benefit your website? What is a dedicated IP server?

If you’ve been considering a dedicated IP address or dedicated hosting in general, then this post is for you. Below we’ll clear up all the confusion surrounding dedicated IP addresses, along with defining dedicated hosting, so you can make the best decision for your website.

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What is a Dedicated IP Address?

First, we’ll begin with a standard IP address.

An IP address is a unique string of numbers that identifies a machine that’s connected to a network. In this case, the machine would be the server, while the network would be the internet as a whole. An IP address is then translated by the Domain Name System (DNS) to an associated domain name.

There are two types of IP addresses currently in existence.

The longest running is IPv4, which is the original formulation of an IP address. This initial inception has allowed for the creation of billions of IP addresses. However, since the number of servers and devices connected to the internet continues to grow, this has led to the creation of IPv6 addresses.

This style of IP address isn’t commonly used, but it will become much more common in the future. IPv6 addresses are longer than IPv4, which offers even more combinations of IP addresses for future devices and servers.

You’ll find that some hosting companies are already offering IPv6 addresses. However, not all routers will support them, so most website owners are better off using the classic IPv4 until IPv6 becomes mainstream.

Now, if you’re currently on a shared hosting plan, then you’re probably also sharing an IP address since IP addresses are assigned to a single server. However, your host will automatically route traffic to the correct website, even though you’re sharing an IP address with hundreds or thousands of other sites. This process happens instantly and takes place entirely behind the scenes, so users won’t even know the transfer has occurred.

The next level of IP address is a dedicated IP address. With a dedicated IP address, your IP address is yours and yours alone. You can either have a dedicated IP address paired with a single website, or a dedicated server that has its own IP address, which you can use for multiple websites that you own.


What is Dedicated IP Hosting?

Dedicated IP hosting can actually be pretty broad in scope. It can refer to any form of web hosting with a dedicated IP address. So, you can have dedicated IP and shared hosting coupled  together, or even a dedicated server with a dedicated IP address (most common).

Some forms of hosting will come equipped with a dedicated IP address no matter what. Typically, this is a standard feature of both dedicated hosting and VPS hosting packages. This isn’t the main reason you’ll want to use these styles of hosting, but for some website owners, it will be a valuable feature.

With dedicated IP hosting you’re getting all of the dedicated IP address benefits (which we cover in detail below).


Why Would You Use a Dedicated IP Address?

Most website owners probably won’t find a ton of value in upgrading to dedicated IP address hosting, unless they’re at the level where upgrading to a dedicated server also makes sense.

Dedicated IP addresses don’t offer the same level of benefits that they used to, but there are still some tangible advantages that certain site owners might find useful.

Here are some of the most common benefits you’ll receive when using a dedicated IP address.


1. Better Email Deliverability

Some website owners will prefer to send email through the host, instead of using a traditional email provider like Gmail. Or, they might use email forwarding to send emails through their host with a domain-associated email address, while still managing emails through a traditional email provider.

Whichever approach you’re taking, one thing you’ll want to ensure is that you maintain a high level of deliverability. In some cases, if you’re using a shared IP address you can run into deliverability issues, which means your emails will never reach the recipient’s inbox. If another user on the same server is causing spam complaints, then this could affect you too.

With a dedicated IP address, you can ensure this will never become an issue, as long as you’re not spamming yourself.


2. Use of an SSL Certificate

You may be wondering, do you need a dedicated IP for SSL certificates? Well, a dedicated IP address used to be a requirement for an SSL certificate. Since Google is making having a SSL certificate a necessity to avoid a security warning, more and more site owners are installing them on their own sites.

Today there’s a technology known as Server Name Identification (SNI), which makes it so dedicated IP address is no longer a requirement. No matter what your current IP address and hosting setup are you can install and reap the benefits of an SSL certificate. Don’t know what an SSL certificate is or why you need one? Check out our blog for helpful resources.

However, not every hosting provider will support SNI. Check with your hosting provider to determine the requirements for installing and activating an SSL certificate.


3. Potential SEO benefits

There’s still a lively debate that surrounds the SEO benefits of using a dedicated IP address. There isn’t really any tangible proof that using a dedicated IP will improve your rankings. But, there are some related performance metrics that might improve your rankings.

For example, when you’re using a dedicated IP the chances are high that you’re also using a dedicated server. If you’re migrating from a shared server to a dedicated server you’ll see a definite improvement in your site’s performance. Since Google places a value on things like site loading time and overall performance, then you could see an increase in rankings. Having a dedicated IP address is a great way to speed up your website.

However, there isn’t any data that supports the notion that solely using a dedicated IP address will have an SEO benefit.


4. Create Your Own Gaming Server

Using a dedicated IP address will give you a greater level of server control. For example, you’ll be able to FTP into your web server right away, even before the domain has propagated. Or, you can access your website via IP address alone, instead of the domain name.

Another useful feature is creating a gaming server. If you want to create your own server so you can play your favorite games, or host your own matches, then you’ll need a dedicated IP address, along with a dedicated server for games.

For website owners who demand a higher level of control and customization, then a dedicated IP address is a must have.


What is a Dedicated Server?

A dedicated server is a server that you have complete access to and control over. Instead of sharing server resources with other users all of the server resources can be used to power your website.

If your site has outgrown a traditional shared hosting plan, then you might consider upgrading to a dedicated server. This type of hosting is very beneficial for larger sites that receive a high volume of traffic, or those that require custom server configurations.

With a dedicated server, you have the resources of an entire web server at your disposal, for you to do whatever you wish. Whether that’s powering your website, running a gaming server, or something else entirely (as long as you’re in alignment with the host’s terms of service).


Pros of a Dedicated Server

A dedicated server can provide a ton of advantages for the right kind of user. Here are some of the biggest benefits you’ll receive when upgrading to a dedicated server.


High Level of Performance

When using a dedicated server you have the full power of the server behind you. You won’t be sharing any server bandwidth, disc space, memory, or any other processing resources with other users. As a result, you’ll get an incredibly high level of server performance.

If you have a very large and high traffic site and are reaching the limits of your dedicated server, you can also upgrade hardware components to support your growing site.


Ability to Customize Your Server

When you’re using a shared hosting plan you’re limited to whatever server configuration the host is providing. But, with a dedicated server, you’ll have a much higher level of control. For example, you’ll be able to choose your own server operating system, install unique software, and even make hardware customizations to ensure optimum performance.


Fast Site Loading Speeds

Dedicated servers are fast. If you place a high level of importance on your site’s speed and user experience (which you should be), then a dedicated server can easily help you meet these needs. Even if you have a very high volume of monthly traffic, you’ll still be able to deliver your users an incredible experience.


Improved Website Security

Dedicated servers are also very secure. Since you’re the only user who’s using the server you’ll be able to create custom security protocols, like firewalls, web security checker, and more. You also won’t have to worry about any other sites sharing the server having weak security standards, like you do when using shared hosting.


Cons of a Dedicated Server

However, a dedicated server isn’t perfect. Here are some of the disadvantages that might turn you away from using a dedicated server:


High Level of Technical Expertise Required

When using a dedicated server your hosting company generally won’t provide that much technical assistance. Server setup, configuration, maintenance, and more will all fall on your shoulders. If you don’t have the necessary technical skills, then you’ll probably need to bring on a team member for server configuration and maintenance.

However, some hosting providers will offer managed dedicated servers. In this scenario, the hosting provider will help to manage your server environment and take care of server setup, maintenance, updates, optimization, and more.


Higher Monthly Hosting Costs

Dedicated server hosting is generally one of the most expensive forms of hosting. Since you’re not sharing server resources with any other users, you won’t be splitting these costs either. But, with these higher costs you’re getting access to extensive server resources that’ll greatly improve site performance.

However, if you’re the type of website owner who could benefit from a dedicated server, then you probably have the revenue to justify the cost. It’s also possible to save on cheap dedicated server hosting cost with more affordable plans.


What is a Dedicated IP Server?

The term dedicated IP server is commonly thrown around in relation to dedicated IP addresses and dedicated servers. This term has a more broad definition, but generally, it refers to a dedicated server that’s equipped with a dedicated IP address.

When you’re using a dedicated server this will have it’s own IP address, known as a dedicated IP address. However, you can also have multiple dedicated IP addresses on a single dedicated server. This can be useful if you have multiple websites that you’d like to host on a single dedicated server.

In some cases, a dedicated IP server can refer to any kind of web hosting configuration that’s using a dedicated IP address. But, most often it’s a dedicated IP address paired with a dedicated server.


Closing Thoughts

A general rule of thumb is that if you need a dedicated IP address, then you’re the kind of user who could also benefit from having their own server, or a dedicated IP server. Generally, having a dedicated IP address on a shared host is less common as there are multiple levels of software configuration that need to take place for this to work.

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what a dedicated IP address is, why you want one, and how it relates to a dedicated IP server. For further questions regarding our web hosting plans, please contact HostGator today.

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