What is the Difference Between Static and Dynamic IP Addresses?

by admin on June 26, 2008

When you connect a computer to a network, you have the choice of either giving it a static or dynamic IP address. What is the difference between them?

A fixed, or static IP address assigns a computer a specific IP address on a network. The computer knows what IP it’s supposed to have, and the domain controller on the network knows that IP that computer is supposed to have. If you try and give two computers the same IP address, you get collisions and errors. You might have seen this when you’re trying to set up a computer, and see an error that another computer on the network already has that IP address. Static IP addresses are often used for devices that will always be present on a network, like printers or web servers.

A dynamic IP address is assigned by a special computer on the network called a DHCP server. Computers that attempt to access the network use the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to contact the server and request an IP address. The server has a pool of IP addresses that it can then assign to the requesting computer. Once that computer logs off again, the IP address can be freed up and assigned to a different computer. This allows large numbers of computers share a limited number of IP addresses. As long as they aren’t all trying to access the network at the same time.

So, the main difference between static and dynamic IP addresses is that static addresses are configured permanently to a specific computer, while dynamic addresses are handed out by a DHCP server on an as-needed basis.

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