DHCP vs. Static IP

DHCP vs. Static IP

When it comes to setting up a network, one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is whether you want to use DHCP or static IP addressing.

Static addresses are static (constant) while dynamic keeps changing. With static addresses, the IP stays the same. With a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) address, the IP address is dynamically allocated to each device from a pool of IP addresses on the network.

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand what they are before making your decision.

Overview of DHCP and Static IP

What is an IP Address? 

An IP address is a unique numerical address assigned to each device connected to a network. In most cases, this includes your home devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.

This address identifies the physical location of the device so that data can be sent and received without any confusion. There are two types of IP addresses—static and dynamic—and each one serves a different purpose. 

What is DHCP?

DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and is used by many routers and other networking devices to assign IP addresses on a local area network (LAN). This makes it easy for users on the LAN to access resources such as printers or file servers without having to manually configure each device with an IP address.

What is Static IP?

Static IP addresses are assigned manually instead of being assigned dynamically by a DHCP server. This can be beneficial when configuring certain applications that require specific ports or protocols since these settings will remain constant even if the user’s machine changes networks.

It also eliminates any issues caused by conflicting IP addresses due to multiple devices using the same address at once.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using DHCP

Advantages of Using DHCP 

The primary advantage of using DHCP is that it simplifies the process of configuring networked devices with IP addresses.

Instead of manually assigning IP addresses to each device on the network, they can all be configured automatically by a single server running the DHCP protocol.

This saves time and effort when setting up new devices on a network. Additionally, since the IP address settings are stored on the server, if any changes need to be made they can be done centrally rather than requiring manual reconfiguration of each device. 

Another benefit of using DHCP is that it allows for dynamic addressing which reduces the strain on local networks as devices come and go from them.

Since each device is assigned an address from a “pool”, when one device leaves the pool becomes available for use by another device without needing any extra configuration or management from an administrator.

This makes networks more efficient at handling large amounts of traffic without overloading their resources. 

Disadvantages of Using DHCP 

One of the main issues with using DHCP is that it can be vulnerable to security threats if not properly configured.

If an attacker gains access to the server running the DHCP protocol they could gain control over all connected devices on the network by changing their IP settings or sending malicious code through them.

As such it’s important to ensure that any server running DHCP has robust security measures in place such as firewalls or antivirus software installed.

Additionally, since all settings are managed centrally there may be cases where certain devices need custom configurations that cannot be handled by a single server running DHCP – in this case manual configuration would still be required for those specific devices even if most are covered by DHCP already.  

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Static IP

Advantages of Using a Static IP 

The most obvious advantage of using a static IP is that you will always know where to find your device, which can be useful for remote work, setting up port forwarding for gaming, or other applications requiring remote access.

This makes it easier to use services like Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), remote desktop access, or secure shell (SSH) connections since they all require reliable connection points.

Additionally, with a static IP address, you can have consistent website hosting since it eliminates any issues with DNS resolution due to dynamic IP changes.  

Disadvantages of Using a Static IP 

While there are benefits to having a static IP address, there are also some drawbacks as well.

For one thing, having an unchanging address makes it easier for hackers and spammers to target your system—which could lead to malware attacks or other security breaches if you aren’t careful about protecting your data.

Additionally, using a static IP means that you may need to pay extra fees depending on your service provider since many ISPs charge more for fixed addresses than dynamic ones.

Finally, if your ISP changes its hardware setup without warning, then it can cause problems with your static IP configuration. 

When to Use a DHCP or a Static IP Address?

When Should I Use DHCP? 

A DHCP is ideal for home networks where multiple devices are connecting and disconnecting from the internet at any given time, such as laptops, tablets, phones, game consoles, and smart TVs.

With this protocol in place, any new device that connects to your home network will automatically be assigned an IP address so it can get online quickly and easily.

Additionally, if you have multiple devices connected to your network at once, DHCP can help ensure they all have unique IP addresses so they don’t conflict with one another. 

When Should I Use a Static IP Address? 

Static IP addresses are better suited for servers and other devices that stay connected to the internet 24/7.

Not only do static IPs provide additional security since they can’t be “hijacked” by malicious users as dynamic ones can, but they also make it easier for other users to access content hosted on these machines since their addresses don’t change over time.

Additionally, if you need to remotely access a certain device on your home network (such as a printer or NAS), having its static IP address makes this process much simpler because you won’t have to worry about its address changing over time.

What is better DHCP or static IP?

There’s no difference between the performance of the two. DHCP is cheaper concerning maintenance as most routers or modems support it out of the box.

Static addresses, however, must be manually assigned in the network device.

Which is faster DHCP or static?

Neither of them offers a performance boost. You can choose any depending on your situation.

Is static IP safer than DHCP?

Although using DHCP may seem like a more secure option because your IP address changes every time you connect, there are still risks associated with using this method.

Because many devices have similar settings when connecting via DHCP, hackers can easily guess which devices are connected and then target them.

On the other hand, because of their unchanging nature, static IP addresses are much harder for hackers to track down and target.

Additionally, if someone does attempt to enter malicious code into your system via a static IP address connection, you can easily blacklist that particular address so that no further attempts can be made from that source. 

To summarise:

Feature Static IP Dynamic IP
Permanent or fixed IP address Yes No
Ease of setup More complex Easier
Cost Generally more expensive Generally less expensive
Remote Access/VPN Better Limited
Gaming/Voice over IP Better Limited
Website hosting Better Limited
Security More Secure Less Secure

Looking to set up a static or a dynamic IP? Our network gurus are just a phone call away!

Author:
I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...