A virtual private network (VPN) is an application that provides a computer with a secure connection to a public network over the internet, giving users online privacy, anonymity and security. For example, many businesses use a remote access VPN to grant employees a secure connection to the corporate intranet. For personal use, a VPN gives users a digital smoke screen to securely hide their browsing history and protect their identity.
When your employees use an unsecured Wi-Fi network without a VPN, they could unintentionally expose confidential company data, as well as personally identifiable information (PII) – such as emails, Social Security numbers and bank account information – which could lead to identity theft. But a VPN encrypting data adds an extra layer of security that prevents cybercriminals and hackers from exploiting the scrambled data.
VPNs often use a dynamic internet protocol (IP) address system, or a shared IP address system, which hides a digital footprint among multiple users sharing the same address. A VPN that uses a static, or dedicated, IP address system, by contrast, offers more reliable voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and video communication while simplifying remote access for an entire organization. Let's take a look at the two VPN types and explore the differences.
What is a dedicated IP VPN?
With a dedicated IP VPN, also known as a static IP VPN, you get an IP address that's dedicated solely for your company's use. There are many IP addresses like it, but this one is yours. A dedicated IP VPN server isn't necessarily more secure – and it typically comes with an additional cost – but it provides a few perks that may appeal to businesses.
There are some fine details that distinguish a dedicated IP from a static IP, but on a practical level, they essentially serve the same function: to uniquely identify one address from other IP addresses on a server. The benefits a dedicated IP VPN brings to a small business include protected access to business servers, secure online payments and fewer blacklisted IP addresses. Better yet, if you're hosting a server using a static IP address, it's easier for customers to find and use your services.
With a static IP VPN, your organization's information technology (IT) department can identify specific IP addresses and authorize them for remote access to a given system or a private server. And by avoiding suspicious activity, like logging in from different regions or multiple IP addresses, a static IP also prevents banks from flagging or locking your account, thereby helping to keep your online payments secure.
A static IP also helps to keep your address from ending up on a blacklist, which would block you from accessing various websites. IP addresses are typically blacklisted when they exhibit suspicious behavior similar to what you'd see from malware or bots. When an IP address is shared among dozens (or sometimes hundreds) of users, servers are bombarded with countless requests, and those addresses are eventually blocked.
The difference between static IP and shared IP
A dynamic IP VPN, also known as a shared IP VPN, is usually cheaper to deploy and a bit more intuitive for IT teams to manage, as it doesn't require much setup. Users with a dynamic IP are automatically assigned the next available IP address after they log in to the VPN server. And because a dynamic IP VPN lets you use an IP address again and automatically assign an address to a device, it also helps to reduce costs.
A dynamic VPN automatically generates an IP address and saves you from having to manually delete outdated information, while preventing multiple computers from using the same IP address at the same time. A dynamic IP VPN also allows you to mask your network address, making it harder to be targeted for potential attacks.
Although a dynamic IP VPN helps hide your physical location to further prevent cyberattacks, it doesn't work quite as well for hosted services, like a web server or email server. A domain name system (DNS) has trouble handling a dynamic VPN because of the constantly changing addresses. And while you can use a dynamic DNS service as a temporary fix, it's a costly and complex solution.
Because shared IP VPNs depend on open addresses to be assigned as users log in, it lends itself to potential downtime as you wait for an available spot. Another consideration is that dynamic IP addresses may not accurately reflect your physical location, which may lead to issues with geolocation services and accuracy.
5 VPNs that provide dedicated IP addresses
Five VPN services that offer options for a dedicated IP address are NordVPN, Surfshark, CyberGhost, PureVPN and VPNArea. Your business's needs will determine which one is the best fit.
NordVPN is a popular service that features dynamic IP options for most users, but you do have the option to purchase a dedicated IP address at an additional cost. Static IP addresses with NordVPN are limited to four cities in the U.S., along with options for the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands. On the other hand, NordVPN's shared IP service allows you to connect up to six devices to more than 5,000 servers in 62 countries.
Surfshark is another VPN service that has a great reputation for security and privacy, with over 1,700 servers throughout 63 countries, and offers dedicated IP addresses located in the U.S., Germany, the U.K, Japan and Singapore, with no hidden fees. Surfshark comes with 256-bit encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch to make sure you always have a secure connection.
CyberGhost offers users IP addresses from over 60 countries, and features strong encryption, leak protection and a kill switch. This VPN service offers excellent speeds for HD streaming, allowing you to easily watch region-locked content. This option also comes with a dedicated IP option that offers extra security, because not even the company knows what IP address you've been assigned. However, this is a token-based service, and if you lose that token, you lose access to that dedicated IP address, much like the security you'd see with cryptocurrency tokens. Read our review of CyberGhost.
With dedicated IP addresses throughout the U.K., North America, Australia and China, PureVPN is a great service for bypassing net neutrality restrictions. Although PureVPN keeps user activity logs, it doesn't have any record of the PII associated with them. PureVPN currently offers shared VPN servers in 141 countries and allows for up to five devices to be connected simultaneously.
This VPN service has military-grade encryption, leak protection and a kill switch, as well as dedicated IP addresses in 13 locations, including the U.S., Canada, Bulgaria and Hong Kong. VPNArea's servers are customized to improve download and streaming video speeds, and as an unusual bonus, VPNArea allows you to share your account.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for VPNs, and understanding the ideal use case for the different types of services can help guide you when you're looking for the security solution that's right for you. For personal use, shared IP VPNs are a great choice, but when you're dealing with business organizations, a dedicated IP VPN will help provide secure remote access and control over your network.