Of all the features offered by the different hosting providers, the dedicated IP address option raises the most questions. How does it affect my website? Do I actually need one? Can I just use a shared one? Does it have any advantages? Do I really, really need one?

A dedicated IP address comes with certain benefits, but it might not always be necessary. While VPS and dedicated servers come with dedicated IP addresses by default, for shared hosting it’s optional.

What is an IP Address?

Beforehand, you need to understand what an IP address is. The IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique sequence of numbers assigned to every device that accesses the internet. In the case of your website, the IP address will identify the server where your website’s files are being hosted.

IP addresses are part of the DNS (Domain Name System), which is essentially the internet address book. The DNS will translate the domain name to an IP address so it can load the content from that server. In other words, when you browse to a URL such as www.google.ca, the DNS server tells your web browser where to go to find www.google.ca. This eliminates the need to memorize numbers and simply use a domain name.

What is a Shared IP address?

A shared IP address is an IP address used by multiple domains. The web server will do some extra work locating your website files in the server, but it will not affect your site’s speed. This would be the similar to an apartment building’s address: while all tenants share the same street address, each one has their own space inside.

What is a Dedicated IP Address?

A dedicated IP address is just what it sounds like: an IP address assigned to your site that isn’t used by any other domains. Since your domain name is tied to the IP address, you can use either one to reach your site. Similar to how your home address is unique, a dedicated IP address is your website’s address in the internet.

Why is it beneficial to have a dedicated IP address?

For most users, a shared hosting environment with a shared IP address is more than enough. For those who are unsure if a dedicated IP address is for you, we’ve compiled a list of scenarios where a dedicated IP address is crucial. If none of the things on the list pertain to you, a shared IP address is enough.

Email Deliverability

When you have your own IP address, you have more options how to use it. In particular, you can control your IP address reputation. An IP address earns a bad reputation when it’s used for malicious activities such as spamming. When it comes to ISPs and delivery rates, an IP address’s reputation can impact your delivery rate and the ability to hit your recipient’s inboxes. Canadian Web Hosting maintains a strict anti-spam policy to prevent our IP addresses from getting blacklisted.

When sending important emails, you want to ensure your message is delivered.

Since a shared IP address is used by multiple clients, you can’t control what type of traffic goes through it. Using a dedicated IP address for email isolates your web activities from other users’ abuse consequences. However, if you’re planning on sending a lot of business emails, we would suggest using a third-party emailing platform.

Good for E-commerce

If you are going to host your own online store and won’t use a third-party payment processor, it is necessary to have an SSL certificate. This will provide your customers peace of mind as they’ll know their data will be encrypted. While SSL certificates no longer require a dedicated IP address, some web hosts might still require it. Canadian Web Hosting includes a dedicated IP address and a 1-year free Rapid SSL certificate in the Enhanced plan.

Giving International Access to a Resource

Using a dedicated IP address means businesses can share information through the use of API services. For example, if you have a bank partner with systems in one country, and financial systems in another, you’re able to share information through an API service. Hosting an API service on a dedicated IP allows your bank partner to share details through that API for business purposes (like transfer services).

Required for Some Applications/Scripts

Sometimes, a particular application or script that you may wish to run on your site requires a dedicated IP address. You will need to review the application’s documentation to confirm if it’s necessary. Weebly, WordPress and other popular scripts don’t require one so if you’re thinking about using any of them, you’re on the clear.

Extended Hosting Functionality

With a dedicated IP address, you gain a higher level of server control. Many functions can only be enabled for accounts using a dedicated IP such as SSH access. Some hosts will refuse SSH access to the server’s shared IP address as it posses a risk to the users hosting under that IP address. If you have a dedicated IP address assigned, you can access your website just by going to the IP address. It’ll display the same contents as if you had entered your domain name.

You can technically create and view your website using the IP address without purchasing a domain name. This is useful if you have not yet chosen a domain name and want to start building a website. With a shared IP address, you would not be able to do this since there are other domains using it.

Then, should I request a dedicated IP address?

Chances are you will not need a dedicated IP address while your site is new. As mentioned above, dedicated IP addresses have very specific advantages that can greatly improve your hosting experience, but are generally not so useful if you have no need for them. If you’re looking for enhanced security and administrative access to the server, then you might need to consider VPS or dedicated hosting.

Canadian Web Hosting offers a variety of hosting packages that include a dedicated IP address and an SSL certificate.

What questions do you have about dedicated IP addresses?