What is a Dedicated IP?
“IP” stands for Internet Protocol. Every website is accessed by a domain name. Behind that domain name is a numeric address that is understood by computers as the address for the domain name. For example, this site, 24-7webs.com (domain name) is actually on an IP address, 126.96.36.199. Remembering that address is difficult at best so the internet, the server and DNS services points 24-7webs.com to the numeric address 188.8.131.52. If you go to http://184.108.40.206 (opens new window), you would wind up at our site. Every website has as IP address behind its name. However, one IP address can contain or host thousands of domain names and websites. A dedicated IP means that only your site(s) are associated with that IP address. The IP address is dedicated to your exclusive use. For a more in-depth description of IP addresses have a look at wikipedia here (new window).
Why Would I want a Dedicated IP?
There are a few reasons why you may want a dedicated IP address. We will take a look at the common reasons.
Secure Sites, Ecommerce Sites, Sites Collecting or Transmitting Sensitive Information
If you intend to sell online and collect sensitive data, you are going to want an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is now know as Transport Layer Security or TLS. This security provides cryptographic protocols for secure communication over the internet. In other words, using TLS or SSL “scrambles” the information being sent so that only the recipient can view use it. If you are going to run a secure site, you may require a dedicated IP address. Check with your host. Many have SNI installed which permits an SSL certificate without the need for a dedicated IP. All 24-7 Webs servers have SNI installed.
DNS stands for Domain Name System. It is the method used to direct calls for your website to the appropriate IP address or server as described above. DNS is most often hosted on the server your site is on and set up by your web hosting company. Some webmasters, for various reasons, prefer to run their DNS remotely, controlling all of the DNS records through a third party provider. This may require that your site is available at a specific IP address. In order for your site to show up, and because the webmaster is not using the web host’s DNS system, a dedicated IP address may be required.
Nameservers (also spelled name servers) are the authoritative addresses that map where your site is located. It is used by the DNS system to send traffic to your site. When someone punches your domain name into an address bar, the DNS system locates your site by looking at the authoritative source for your domain, in other words, to the information stored at the nameservers specifically related to your site. When you set up a hosting account, your web host will send you the nameservers required for your domain. Although nameservers may share IP addresses, they react faster if they do not. If you run a reseller account and get private nameservers, they would normally get their own dedicated IP addresses.
Private FTP Access
Certain businesses require the transfer of large files. Typically, printing and graphics businesses fall into this category. Often they will have a server or website for receiving these files, with no domain name associated with it. In the hosting industry, this is known as IP only hosting. The business would send their clients to the specific IP address to upload or download files. In this instance, a dedicated IP is required.
Private Mail Servers
Many large institutions run their own mail servers. These servers are used exclusively by that institution and as is the case for any standalone server, a dedicated IP is required.
SEO and Separate Class C Addresses
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) myths prevail on the internet. One is that a dedicated IP will somehow rocket you to the top of the rankings or that other dubious sites hosted on the same IP will get you banned. Both myths are untrue. Another rumour suggests that a spammer on the same IP will cause you to have mail problems. This is more a reality but really would only happen if your web host allows this activity and more importantly, there is an assumption that your IP used for hosting the site is somehow the same as the IP used for mail delivery, an assumption which again is not necessarily true. There’s an interesting article on IP reputation over at Wordfence. (new window)
One recommendation that does seem authentic is that if you are going to link sites together for link popularity, they should be on separate Class “C” IP addresses. This can be easily addressed without resorting to the expense of a dedicated IP. A Class “C” address refers to the 3rd group of numbers in an IP address which has four groups of numbers in the standard (IPv4) configuration (not IPv6).
Recently, Google has announced that they will favor sites in the search results that have SSL enabled. This requires a dedicated IP.
Is a Dedicated IP the Same as a Static IP?
No. Every server uses the main server IP for hosting multiple sites. It remains the same IP throughout the life of the server and is therefore “static”. It does not mean you are the only customer on that IP. A dedicated IP means that only you have the ability to put sites on that IP. If you put more than one site on the IP, it is still dedicated to your usage but the IP is not unique to one website. This may be the situation where you have “Addon” domains or may happen if you have a reseller account and your web host has determined that your dedicated IP will be used for all your sites.