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An IP — or internet protocol — address is a number by which your computer is identified on the internet.
Think of it like your phone number, but for your computer. There are two types of IP addresses: dynamic IP addresses and static/fixed IP addresses.
This guide will explain what they are and their relative advantages and disadvantages.
Static/fixed addresses are where a computer has the same address all the time. So every time you log into the internet, you have the same address. This means your computer can easily be recognised by others.
Static IPs are especially popular with business broadband users. See our business broadband page to compare all business broadband packages.
Dynamic IP addresses are where a new number is assigned to your computer regularly. This is more common among domestic broadband users, due to that fact that it creates efficiency within a network.
Your ISP may well offer a fixed IP address as part of your broadband package — although they may charge you an additional monthly fee for one.
Having a static IP address has advantages mainly for more involved internet users, such as people who run businesses or gamers.
For example, with a fixed IP address you can set up an email account directly to your computer without needing to use an email provider such as Hotmail or Gmail.
This is of particularly use if you have your own business, especially as having a static IP address allows you to run your own website server. Static IP addresses also enable you to access your computer remotely so you can log into your computer wherever you are in the world.
Additionally, fixed IP addresses provide you with a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server, which allows you to transfer information between computers easily and efficiently.
It also means you can operate a game server, meaning you can run a private online game to your liking. Fixed IP addresses also reduce downtime, which can really affect gaming.
The main problem with static IP addresses is that they make your computer more vulnerable to hackers: Because the address doesn’t change, a hacker can attack your computer over and over again.
If your computer has sufficient protection, such as a firewall, it should hopefully negate that problem. Another potential issue is that if you're running your own server for games or a website, you may have to run your computer all the time.
BT urges customers to protect themselves against cyber threats.
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