While on the internet, looking for the right VPN, you might have stumbled across some words that sound technical – terms such as static and dynamic IPs, shared and dedicated IPs. What are these terms and do you need to understand them to start using a VPN?
Note: Using a VPN is very simple and you don’t have to learn all these terms. However, if you want to use more advanced features of a VPN, you might want to understand them.
Let’s begin by understanding what an IP address is
IP (Internet Protocol) address is a string of numbers. It is used to identify a device on the internet. Just like your home has a house address, your device on the internet has an IP address.
To connect to the internet, each device needs to have a unique identifier, which is its IP address. So when the data packets are received from the web server, they arrive correctly on your device and are not sent to someone else’s device.
Your IP address reveals a lot about you. It reveals not just your country but your exact city or area as well. It also shows your ISP and other small details about your connection. So if a website bans its contents from being viewed by people from a specific country, it can easily do so by monitoring the IP addresses.
If you have ever seen a YouTube video display an error that that particular video cannot be played in your country, your IP address is to blame here. It gives away your correct location to the web servers.
What happens when you connect to a VPN?
When you connect to a VPN, your traffic flows from your device to the VPN server and from there, to the webserver. So the webserver sees the IP address of the VPN server and not your real IP address.
So if you want to show that you’re located in the US (but you’re really in Germany), you can connect to a US VPN server. This way, you can easily take up the IP of any country you want.
Now let’s see the meaning of the terms static, dynamic, shared, and dedicated IP addresses.
Static IP address
Static is something that doesn’t change. When you connect to a VPN server with a static IP address, it stays the same every time you connect to that server.
It is good for users who want to appear online from the same IP every time. For example, online gambling is geo-restricted. When you use a VPN to access it, you need to make sure you always use the same IP so they don’t detect anything
If the gambling site detects that you’re breaking their terms, they might keep your winnings and ban you from the site. So it’s important to have the same IP each time you log in.
Dynamic IP address
A dynamic IP address will change every time you connect to the VPN. While it changes the IP, which means the website might suspect the use of a VPN, dynamic IP provides a higher level of privacy.
If you use the same IP address to visit a website, they will associate it with you. So they can track your activities. If they ever have to find out who’s behind that particular IP, it’s easy to find you.
If you visit the website with a different IP each time, it will be difficult to track you. People use dynamic IP addresses as they are more secure and anonymous.
Shared IP address
When a number of users connect to the same VPN server, it’s a shared server or IP address. The advantage of a shared IP is that a lot of people share the same IP so it gets difficult to track you.
If a website wants to track the person behind a particular IP address, they will be unable to do so. Since a number of users use the same IP, they cannot know the real IP behind the VPN IP.
There might be ten other users on that VPN server at the time you were online. This makes it difficult to track you. So you get a better level of anonymity with a shared IP address.
Dedicated IP address
Unlike a shared IP, a dedicated IP is used by just one user. So if you connect to a dedicated VPN server, you’ll be the only one on it. If a website has to track back to you, it can easily do so.
You connect to the server on 1:1 basis so reverse tracking to the user’s real IP becomes easy. If the VPN company keeps logs of their servers, it will be easy to get to know your real IP.
But the good thing is that if you want to access services such as Netflix, you might want to use a dedicated IP.
When Netflix sees a lot of requests coming from the same IP, it will understand that it’s a VPN and will block it. With a dedicated IP, only you’ll be using it so Netflix won’t know that it’s a VPN. So the chances of it being blocked are less.
Dedicated IPs are generally more expensive than shared IPs.
What is the best option?
There is no one solution that fits all types of needs. If you want a VPN for anonymity, you should get a shared IP. And if you want to unblock a particular service, you should try getting a dedicated IP.
Of course, a dedicated IP will also provide anonymity but not as much as that offered by a shared IP. Similarly, a shared IP will be able to unblock services but the chances of getting caught are higher with a shared IP than with a dedicated IP.
So the right solution depends on your needs. If you’re not sure about the right kind of VPN IP, you should discuss it with the VPN provider. Keep in mind that dedicated IPs cost extra and you’ll have to pay for each dedicated IP that you need.