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Using a Dedicated IP Address
Jun 23, 2004
There has been a lot of talk in the webmaster community about IP addresses. Which is better? Shared or Dedicated? Get the scoop here about the benefits of having a dedicated IP address and how these addresses differ from using a shared IP address.
What is a Shared IP Address?
Every web server is assigned an IP address. An IP address might look something like this: 248.57.240.83. The server's IP address generally stays the same all the time. Most websites on the internet are hosted on shared IP addresses, which means that one server with one IP address holds multiple domain names.
It used to be that every domain name had a different IP address, but with the rapid increase of domains needed and the finite number of IP addresses they began to share IPs. Now servers are able to determine by the domain entered in a user's browser which domain is being requested, even though it may send a request for an IP with hundreds of domains.
What is a Dedicated IP Address?
A dedicated IP address is set aside specifically for one domain, like in the old days. This means that if someone types in the numeric form of the IP address the same domain will always appear in the browser. Dedicated IP addresses are no longer the norm and it usually costs more to get one.
Who Needs a Dedicated IP Address?
Usually dedicated IP addresses are used for large web sites or secure e-commerce web sites.
Benefits of Having a Dedicated IP Address
Although, shared IP is usually easier and cheaper, there are a few advantages to having a dedicated IP address. Besides looking 'cool' for fellow webmasters, a dedicated IP is needed for three specific reasons:
Do Search Engines Ban Shared IP Users?
Recent rumors suggested that search engines have blocked spam activity, by blocking ip addresses. Since shared IP address users are bundled together on the same IP address with many others, innocent sites would be banned from search engines if this were the case. The rumor, however, is false. Most web hosting services use an IP sharing environment and it would be unprofitable to search engines to penalize a site based on IP.
Using modern name-based technology a search engine is able to ban anything on a domain name instead of an entire IP neighborhood. So it continues to be search engine safe to host a site on a shared IP environment. (However, sharing a mail server with a spammer is still a bad idea. If you are concerned about being penalized for a fellow shared user's activity, get your own mail server.)
To sum up- serious webmasters who would like total control over their server and space, and e-commerce web sites who need their own SSL certificates are the best candidates for dedicated IP addresses. The rest of us can just happily coexist on the cheaper shared IP's.