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Static vs. dynamic IP addresses

IP addresses

An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique number assigned to every device on a network. Just as a street address determines where a letter should be delivered, an IP address identifies computers on the Internet. Network devices use IP addresses to communicate with each other.

Although computers use IP addresses - numbers - to communicate, it's easier for people to remember words than numbers. The Internet uses DNS (Domain Name System) to enable people to use words instead of numbers for Internet addresses. You can think of DNS as an address book for the Internet. DNS maps domain names to IP addresses.

When you type a URL into your browser, your browser looks up that domain name in DNS. For example, if you type www.google.com into your browser, your browser would ask DNS for Google’s IP address. DNS would return the IP address assigned to Google’s domain name (74.125.239.35). Your browser then connects to that IP address.

Difference between static and dynamic IPs

When a device is assigned a static IP address, the address does not change. Most devices use dynamic IP addresses, which are assigned by the network when they connect and change over time.

When static IPs are needed

Most users do not need static IP addresses. Static IP addresses normally matter more when external devices or websites need to remember your IP address. One example is VPN or other remote access solutions that trust (whitelists) certain IPs for security purposes. A static IP address is not required if you are hosting a server, although it can simplify the setup process. Google Fiber provides two options:

  • Use advanced settings for your network to configure dynamic DNS. When your IP address changes, the DNS entry for your server is automatically updated with its new IP address, so outside users can use the same domain name. You can choose the Dynamic DNS provider and don't have to install additional software on your computer.

  • Use advanced settings to reserve an IP address for a device on your local network. Your device keeps the same IP address until you cancel the reservation or remove the device from your network, even if the device is disconnected.

If you're interested in Google Fiber for Small Business, you can read more information about static IP addresses.

If you are hosting your own server, review our accepted use policy.

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