What’s an IP address and do I need one?

The internet is a really big place – it’s made up of computers all exchanging information constantly using what’s called the Internet Protocol Suite. (That’s the name of the language they speak). To ensure the computers and devices can ‘talk’ to each other, each has to have its very own unique address. This address is called an Internet Protocol address – or, to most, an IP address.

These consist of a group of numbers that look something like this; and are each made up of 32 bits. Due to the limits of maths, there are just 4.3 billion combinations available – and while this may seem a lot, when you consider that every single device in the world (tablet, computer, games console, sat nav etc.) has to have its own, that’s actually quite limited.

That’s the reason many providers offer dynamic IP addresses, with not many offering what’s called static IP addresses.

Dynamic vs static IP addresses

Most consumers will be connected to the internet using a dynamic IP address – this means that each time they connect to the internet, the IP address changes. Essentially, IP addresses are re-used and recycled or even allocated to large groups of people, solving the limited IP addresses problem instantly.

Businesses, on the other hand, often require more advanced internet features and so they tend to have an unchanging, static IP address.

Will I need a static address?

You’ll need a static address if you intend to host your own File or FTP server. If you or your business often receives large files then it’ll be worth setting up your own FTP server so that people can send files to you. In this case, you’ll really benefit from having your very own static IP address. This way, your clients, customers and other contacts can connect to your server easily and reliably.

The world of the internet can often seem confusing – especially with all the terminology and the technicalities of it but we aim to try and break those down for you; to help you understand in a simple way.

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