Among the features available from any hosting provider, you may notice something called a “dedicated IP address”. If you’ve ever wondered what that is and whether you need one, this post is for you.
First things first.What is an IP address anyway? An IP address is like your physical address, but online. When someone types a domain name into an address bar, your browser goes to a DNS registry and looks up the range of numbers that the domain name is mapped to. That’s what tells your browser where to go to retrieve the website you’re looking for. Servers have numerical addresses—domain names are only the shortcut that tells the browser what numerical address to go to.
When your site is hosted on the same server as others, it shares an IP address with those other sites. This is not a problem for most websites—the truth is that most websites don’t actually need a dedicated IP address. A dedicated IP address is one that belongs only to your website and is not shared with any other sites.
With shared hosting and even some types of Virtual Private Server hosting, it’s possible that the server your website is stored on, and therefore its IP address, will occasionally change.
So what are the reasons why someone would want a dedicated IP address?
There are two main reasons why your site might benefit from a dedicated IP address:
Using your site for email
To protect us from the billion pieces of spam that get sent out every day, email delivery networks utilize a number of complex protocols to figure out which emails are trustworthy. In short: IP ranges have a reputation. If your site is on a shared server with many other sites and another site with the same IP address decides to send out a bunch of spam, there’s a chance your IP range may be blacklisted for the purposes of email delivery. You don’t have to worry about that when your IP address is your own. If you’re going to be sending out transactional messages or other significant volume of email from your server, you may be able to get improved delivery rates over time by having a dedicated IP address your messages are going out from instead of sharing with others.
Improving site performance
This won’t make a difference for most sites, but if your site has a particularly high volume of traffic, a dedicated IP address can help to slightly improve the performance of your site. It also reduces the likelihood that your site will crash when faced with high traffic. One way to think about it is that you’re just cutting out an extra step from the equation—instead of your server having to do the thinking about which of many websites under the same address is yours, it knows that your IP range only belongs to your site.
There are also some myths about reasons for dedicated IP ranges that we need to dispel:
Utilizing certain types of SSL certificates
It used to be that a dedicated IP range was required to have an SSL certificate on shared hosting. This no longer the case. Now, multiple sites on the same server and sharing the same IP address can each have a different SSL certificate, and the server knows where to send the person requesting the site.
Common wisdom used to be that a dedicated IP address, by providing a place where only your site can be found, is better for SEO. However, no definitive research on this exists, so we think its not worth the trouble to get a dedicated IP address for this purpose.
We hope this helped you evaluate the reasons to get (or not get) a dedicated IP range for your site. If you have any more questions on the topic, reach out to us!