static vs dynamic ipEvery machine on a network (like the Internet) possesses a unique identifier. The unique identifier is used by computers to send data to specific computers on a network. Today all the computers on Internet use the TCP/IP protocol to communicate with each other. In this particular protocol, the unique identifier for a computer is called its IP address. There exist two standards for IP addresses namely IP Version 4(IPv4) and IP Version 6(IPv6). All computers with IP addresses possess an IPv4 address and several have begun to use the new IPv6 address also. You can learn more about TCP/IP with this easy to follow video course.

There are two kinds of IP addresses- Static IP and Dynamic IP. In this intermediate level tutorial we walk you through the comparison between static IP address and dynamic IP address, and discuss the pros and cons of both.

IPv4 and IPv6

IPv4 uses 32 bits to create a single unique address on the network. The address is represented by four numbers separated by dots. Each number is the decimal representation for an eight digit binary number.

 For example

On the other hand IPv6 uses 128 binary bits to create a single unique address on the network. The address is represented by eight groups of hexadecimal numbers separated by colons. Here’s an example:


The practice is to usually omit the groups of numbers that contain all zeros. Here a colon separator is used to mark the gap. For example the above IP address can also be represented by


Learn more about IP addresses and subnetting with this course.

How to Obtain an IP address

A good question to ask is how does your computer get its IP address. Like we said earlier, an IP address can be either static or dynamic. A static IP address is assigned one time and reserved for only your computer. Even when it is switched off. You can configure a static address yourself by editing your computer’s network settings. To do this you need to understand TCP/IP well. Dynamic addresses are assigned by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol(DHCP) a service which runs on the network. This protocol typically runs on network hardware such as routers or dedicated DHCP servers. It maintains a pool of IP addresses and dynamically assigns them to the computers as they are switched on, or connect to the network. Learn how to set up IP addresses and sub nets easily with this course.

What is NAT?

Today the actual number of IP addresses available is roughly 3.3 billion. As the Internet is growing very fast, there are not enough addresses available. Every machine connected to the internet – whether it’s a PC, a tablet or a phone on WiFi – requires an IP address. This is where Network Address Translation (NAT) comes into the picture. It allows a single IP address to be used for an entire group of computers. The static NAT directs an unregistered IP address to a registered IP address which is very useful when a computer has to access another computer which is outside the network. The Dynamic NAT is responsible to direct unregistered IP addresses to registered ones from a collective of registered IP addresses. The former also use overloading in which multiple unregistered IP addresses are directed to a single address with the use of different ports. Each computer on the private network uses the same IP address but is given a different port number. In other words the port is an extension of the IP address. Most of the firms that have computers connected to the Internet use Network Address Translation. Currently NAT is the best and safest method which is available to enable computers to talk to each other. To learn more about NAT, and routing in general, you can look up this Cisco IP Routing course.

When Do You Opt for Static IP Address

Advantages of Static IP Address

Disadvantages of Static IP Address

Advantages of Dynamic IP Address

Disadvantages of Dynamic IP Address

Hope this helps you understand the basics of IP addresses and when to opt for a static vs dynamic IP address. We recommend you also take this Comptia Network course to get a more holistic understanding of networks and how it all works together.

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