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What are static IP addresses and how are they different to dynamic, dedicated, and shared IP addresses?

If you have ever researched the subject of VPN services, you have probably run into these key terms - static IPs, dynamic IPs, shared IPs, and dedicated IPs. In this article, we will explain the difference between these four kinds of VPN IP addresses so that you know what they are, and when to use them.

VPNs provide subscribers with the ability to conceal their real IP address and replace it with an IP address belonging to the VPN. This is achieved by connecting to a remote VPN server using VPN software. As soon as the connection is established, the VPN subscriber’s IP address appears to be that of the VPN instead of their own. 

When you connect to a VPN server, a number of different things could be happening and VPN providers use four key terms to describe what kind of IP address they are connecting to. The differences between them can have a large effect on the privacy levels that you receive. For this reason, it is good to understand what sets them apart.

Static IP address

A Static VPN address is one that does not change. The advantage of this kind of IP address is that the VPN user can connect to it time and time again and always receive the same IP address. This is extremely useful for accessing online services where it is essential that the VPN user appears to always be logging in from the same IP. 

For example, VPN users may desire a static IP for playing online poker. Poker players can earn substantial amounts of money while playing in online games and tournaments. If they play in a geo-restricted tournament using a VPN, it is vital that they don’t get caught. 

Playing in restricted games is against poker websites’ Terms of Service, and, if a player is discovered breaking the rules, they could have their winnings confiscated. This is a huge risk, and, for this reason, poker players prefer to fly under the radar by always using the same static VPN IP address. 

For more information, check out our VPN static IP address guide. 

Dynamic IP address

A dynamic IP address is an IP address that changes every time that you connect. The advantage of this kind of IP address is that it provides higher levels of privacy when you visit websites and online services. 

Website administrators can track the IP addresses that visit their websites. They can also record what time that IP address visits. This creates a record that could theoretically be tied to the VPN user at a later date. If you always access a particular website using the same static VPN IP address, you run the risk of being tracked and connected to your web browsing habits. With dynamic VPN IPs, users are much more difficult to track.

Shared IP address

A shared IP address is an IP address that many VPN users connect to at the same time. The advantage of sharing an IP address with many other users is that each person’s web browsing habits are mixed together with those of everybody else. With so much happening on a single IP address, it becomes very hard to single any one user out. This makes tracking each individual user extremely difficult, meaning users are afforded an extra level of anonymity.

Dedicated IP address

A dedicated IP address is the opposite of a shared IP. It is a VPN IP address that is reserved for just one VPN subscriber. This kind of IP address is useful for people that desire an IP address that closely resembles a regular home IP. 

VPN users can rent dedicated static IP addresses at an extra cost. However, the drawback of a dedicated static IP is that it is much easier to track the user back to their web browsing habits using a time-correlation attack.

Dynamic dedicated IP address

Some VPNs also provide dynamic dedicated IP addresses. A dynamic dedicated IP is only ever used by one consumer at a time. However, the IP address changes every time that the user connects. Dynamic dedicated IPs are excellent for accessing services where it is essential for the IP address to appear like a regular home IP. Some VPNs use this kind of IP to help their subscribers access services like Netflix. For more information about this, see our VPN for Netflix guide.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 


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