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What Is A Static IP?

A better question might be, why do I care?

Most of us don't care, at least so far as using Radio is concerned. To understand why that is, let's return to explaining what it is.

Dynamic or Static

A static IP (Internet Protocol) address is an identifier that helps one computer find another one in the great Internet cloud.

To be more specific, the reason you can read this page is that your computer identified its address to the computer (the Userland Community Server) that stores this document. That address was created during your current connecting session to the Internet.  Its IP address is assigned dynamically by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) when (that is, each time) you establish your dial-up or broadband connection.

By contrast, the Community Server also has an address but it has a permanent (static) Internet address.

To be sure, your personal computer could also have a static IP address. Mine does. This is not a matter of size or computing power.

Why Not Everyone?

You might ask then (at least I do), why doesn't everyone have a static IP by default?

The simplest answer is that there aren't enough IP addresses to go around. Oops. In the early days, no one expected this Internet thingy to be quite as ubiquitous as it has become. Consequently, computer servers execute some complicated, if minor, magic to make sure that everyone is assigned an IP address when they really need one.

(Someday, when all the technology and politics have been sorted out, lots and lots of new IPs will be calculated and tracked.)

Meanwhile, getting a static IP will cost ya. Mine costs about $15 a month. This charge is entirely separate and additional from other phone and Internet connection charges. Should it cost this much? Who knows?

Do I Need A Static IP?

If your only interest is running Radio as-is, you do not need a static IP. Ever. Radio is quite happy to use the dynamically allocated IP you receive for each session to establish a workable connection with the Userland Community Server (or any other public Internet server).

If, on the other hand, you have a hankering to host websites yourself, you must have a static IP.

This makes sense if you stop to think.

Suppose your street address changed every time someone sent you a letter. That wouldn't matter if each letter were a unique one-time event (analogous to a dynamic IP) but what if you want to be sure that thousands of letters can find you at the same location today that you were at yesterday? You need a static street 'address' to support that. Post Office service is bad enough without asking a postman to calculate your address each time a letter comes your way.

You may have noticed that your local Radio desktop home page loads to this URL: http://127.0.0.1. What gives with that? Is that a static IP?

Not quite. Well, it is static but, by convention, that address is reserved for local rather than public addresses. So, everyone around the world shares that same local 'street' address. More on that in another topic.

So do you care?

If you intend to develop your own multi-weblog community, you do care. For that, you need either Frontier/RCS or Radio/RCS and your own static IP.

If, on the other hand, you are content to author your own personal weblog, leave the driving to others ... and let the Internet generate your dynamic IP address behind the scenes.



© Copyright 2002 Russ Lipton. Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.
Last update: 06/09/2002; 3:51:35 PM.