Pros and cons of dedicated IP, and why you don’t really one!
It used to be that dedicated IP’s were an awesome benefit and justified the extra cost from your webhosting company. It used to be that having your own dedicated IP implied better SEO, security, and other things…but not anymore!
Let’s break down why having a dedicated IP isn’t important anymore…
Difference between DEDICATED IP vs SHARED IP
Don’t even know what a “dedicated” IP is compared to the alternative “shared” IP? Let’s break down some basics about what domains and IPs are and how they relate in the world of computer networks.
What is an IP?
An IP is a like a computer network version of a phone number. Each IP points to a computer, or actually a “server” in the world of webhosting. So imagine that if one computer was to make a connection request to another computer, it would make the request using it’s IP. Think like someone making a phone call to another person using their phone number.
What’s a domain name?
A domain name is like a human-friendly address that point to an IP. Imagine if you were to remember your friend’s home address by its longtitude and latitude coordinates, it would be very hard to remember. So instead, you remember easier labels like “155th Maple St, Smallville, Georgia, USA”.
Domains work in a similar manner in the networking world. Instead of having to remember a computer IP like 126.96.36.199, we can just instead remember a domain “burgershop.com”. Much easier, you see?
What’s the difference between a dedicated IP and shared IP?
If you have 2 websites (that’s 2 domains), and each one sits on its own web-server. You could say each domain has a DEDICATED IP. This is like 2 people with their own separate phone numbers.
But what if you’re hosting 2 websites off the SAME server, and therefore sharing the same server IP? This would mean both websites/domains are using a SHARED IP. There is like 2 people in an office, sharing the same phone number.
Why would anyone use a shared IP? (Aren’t dedicated IP’s so much better?)
It’s a matter of cost and necessity. First off, IP’s cost money. There are only a limited amount of IP’s in the world. And for further clarification, there are only a limited amount of Internet Protocol version 4 addresses available in the world. IPv4 format is the familiar one you probably already know (188.8.131.52). Looking at its format, you can see it allows for a theoretical amount of several billion IP addresses. This seemed abundant at the time the internet was created but now we’re running out!
So now, there’s the new IPv6 format which looks like: 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. Yes, it’s much less friendly and for that reason, IPv4 addresses are extremely high in demand. Server companies and webhosts buy these addresses to give their servers an address on the internet, and also to resell to webhosting clients.
Most webhosting clients are buying cheap “shared hosting” accounts where they’re sharing a server with hundreds of other clients, which means they’re also sharing the IP. Some webhosting clients buy their own dedicated server (which comes with its own dedicated IP) and also cost more. There are also some clients who have a shared hosting account, but want to buy a dedicated IP for their own account. There’s also the matter that dedicated IP’s are always considered as an advantage (in consumer psychology) since they cost extra.
Why DEDICATED IP’s were a benefit 10-20 years ago
1. Webhosting functions and convenience
Having a dedicated IP was necessary for certain applications, and could be seen as more convenient to work with your site.
2. Better SEO
Many SEO experts believed that shared IP’s could negatively affect your rankings in 2 ways…one was that Google might decrease the value of your site if your site shared the same IP with really low-quality/spammy sites, the other was that Google would consider links between 2 sites sharing same IP (or having very similar IP’s) as being lower-value than links between 2 sites with different IP’s. There was probably a bit of truth to it and back in those days, SEO was all the rage.
3. Required for SSL certificates
Back then, you needed to have a dedicated IP in order to get an SSL certificate. But that’s changed now, and you can get SSL’s even while running off a shared IP. But at least you see now where the idea that having a dedicated IP was more “secure” came from. Either way, HTTPS and SSL were not the standard back then like it was today. Only a very small percentage of sites (mostly ecommerce or large businesses) ever went through the hassle of buying/installing SSL’s.
4. Better email-deliverability
Sending emails from a shared IP could also negatively affect your email deliverability rate. If other domains (not yours) are sending spam from the same IP, it could lead to many email servers banning the IP being or automatically filtering it into the spam box.
5. Any other myths/beliefs?
There are many other beliefs and myths about dedicated IP’s vs shared IP’s but I won’t address them all as I don’t think they’re important!
Why DEDICATED IP’s are no longer necessary today…
1. Shared IP’s don’t affect SEO anymore
Whatever degree that people felt Google was penalizing sites for sharing an IP with crappy sites, it seems to have no impact whatsoever anymore. Also, backlinking tactics (and backlink farms) are so much less utilized nowadays than they were before. I would say even SEO seems to be not as popular a tactic as it was before. Many sites are shifting their marketing efforts towards social media and FB ads.
2. Dedicated IP’s are no longer necessary for SSL certificates
With HTTPS and SSL being the standard for today’s websites, there is now a new bit of technology called SNI (server name information) that makes it so SSL’s can be assigned to even websites/domains running off a shared IP.
3. Dedicated IP’s can actually be more hassle for email deliverability
I think email spam filtering has gotten so much more aggressive over the recent years. As a webhost, I can tell you that IP’s are easily getting blacklisted for only a few reports of spam. It also seems that having “NO reputation” can be just as bad or even worse than having “LOW reputation”. I’m guessing this might be due to spammers quickly cycling through IP’s for spamming purposes.
If you don’t already know, many webhosts hate managing their IP reputation for emailing. Many of the recent “managed hosts” popping up won’t even offer email services. Managing IP reputation is a total PITA. You could send totally legit opted-in emails and because your readers don’t want the email anymore, they decide to hit the “SPAM” button because it’s easier for them to delete/unsubscribe that way. Or maybe some users are hitting it by accident. Or fine, maybe you DID have a legitimate spammy email. But 1 or 2 offenses could easily land your IP in the blacklist and then you’ll have to manually write to them explaining about why your emails are not spam and that all your recipients have opted in.
It’s a total hassle managing IP reputation for your own server. Now imagine doing it for a client who doesn’t understand (and doesn’t care to understand) why their emails can’t reach their clients. If you don’t want to deal with your own email IP-reputation management, I highly recommend you to stay on a shared IP so your webhost has more incentive to manage your IP reputation. After all, it’s easier to manage an IP’s reputation when it represents multiple clients instead of only one.
4. What about the argument that dedicated IP’s are needed if you send MANY emails?
If you send THAT many emails, what you need is a dedicated email server with its own IP or to use a dedicated email service that sends using their IP. Or heck, just get G-Suite since they have the best email deliverability rates IMO. Sending mass emails from your server is a guarantee that it’s only a matter of time before your IP gets marked as spam.
Wait, so you’re saying DEDICATED IP’s aren’t needed anymore?
Yeaup, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
You don’t need a dedicated IP. If you get one that comes with a VPS or dedicated server, that’s cool. If you’re on a shared or managed hosting account and you only have a shared IP, you are totally fine!!! Don’t go out of your way to get a dedicated IP. You don’t need that extra hassle in your life.
But if dedicated IP’s aren’t needed or aren’t beneficial anymore, why do they still cost extra?
Ha, that’s because IP’s are still worth something for server-related purposes. Also still worth something because naive people see value in them. I mean, hey, people are still naive even to pay for commercial SSL’s when a free one by Let’s Encrypt works totally fine. You see? Just because something costs money doesn’t mean it actually provides any noticeable benefit to you.