Shared vs. Dedicated IP Address

This article defines what an IP address is, and compares shared vs. dedicated IP addresses. Also, information on Private SSL, Anonymous FTP, Domain Names, and Website Control. Keep reading for more on shared versus dedicated IPaddress.
Related article: Dedicated Servers

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Webmasters and designers face some choices each time they bring a new site into existence. One of these crucial choices is whether to choose a shared IP Address or a Dedicated IP Address.  Making the right choice at the outset can save time and energy later.

What Is an IP Address?

An IP address is a crucial element in the set up of the Internet. With a unique IP address assigned to each web server, computer, router, and other electronic device with a connection to the Internet, it provides the ability for exact identification. The IP address is built from four numbers separated by dots or periods. Each of these numbers has digits that range from 0 to 255. Web server IP addresses usually come in three flavors: static, fixed, or dedicated.

What Is a Shared IP Address?

You might be surprised to learn that shared IP addresses were not in the original design of how things work. At the beginning, each domain name had a separate IP address assigned to it. On account of the finite set of available IP addresses and the rapidly growing number of domains, sharing IP addresses became a reality. The ability of servers to match a domain entered by a user into a browser with a shared IP address makes this a workable option.

For most websites, hosting with a shared IP address on a shared hosting web server is a suitable choice. In this scenario, each person's website has its own partition on the server, and the owners of all the sites share the maintenance costs, making it an affordable option.

What Is a Dedicated IP Address?

A dedicated IP address means that the web server is always identified by the same, single address. Because this scenario has one address per server, there is one client paying for server maintenance, and this option is more expensive than shared IP addresses. But there are advantages that—in certain cases—outweigh the added cost, particularly for SEO's.

• Private SSL Certificates and Dedicated IP Addresses

In you want to engage in electronic commerce, transmit health care data, or accept credit cards online, you need at https web site. In order to have an https website you need a Private Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate, since its protocol has an encryption system for maintaining security of messages transmitted on the Internet. And in order to get your own Private SSL Certificate, you need to have a dedicated IP address.

If, on the other hand, you are willing to use a shared SSL certificate, you do not need to have a Private SSL Certificate, and you can use an IP address that is shared as well. Employing a payment service like PayPal is a third alternative.

• Anonymous FTP and Dedicated IP Addresses

Depending on the web host, a dedicated IP address may be required in order to allow anonymous FTP (fire transfer protocol). FTP is the standard way to transfer files between two computers that are linked to the Internet but not networked to each other. Anonymous FTP allows the user to sign in with the name anonymous and use FTP software to access a file directory on a specified disk drive. Enabling anonymous FTP requires a dedicated IP address.

• Dedicated IP Addresses and Your Own Domain Name Server

If instead of using a web host's server you wish to set up your own domain name server for translating IP addresses into domain names (and vice versa), you will also need a dedicated IP address.

• Dedicated IP Address and Website Control

Also, if you wish to maintain complete control over a website and make all the decisions with regard to its set-up, maintenance, etc., you also need a dedicated IP address. Another element of control is that with a dedicated IP address, you can avoid spam blockers who end up blocking an entire group of innocent shared IP address holders because they happen to share server space with a spammer or other web miscreant.

Related article: Dedicated Servers