People are often quick to label shared IP addresses as unsafe, slow, and unreliable. But the truth is that, while both options have advantages and disadvantages, the typical user benefits most from a shared IP address.
Before deciding on which IP type to choose, you should ensure that you understand the differences between dedicated and shared IP addresses. Your final choice may depend on how you plan to use the VPN.
What Are Shared and Dedicated IP Addresses?
If you have never used a VPN, you may not know the difference between these two ways of having an IP address or how VPNs work.
When you connect to the Internet through a VPN service, you are assigned a virtual IP address. You can then use the Internet anonymously, browsing or downloading content without using the IP assigned by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
With a shared IP address, you are sharing the same virtual address with many other VPN users. With a dedicated IP address, your virtual IP address is not used by any other users.
Dedicated IP Advantages
A dedicated IP address has a few advantages compared to a shared one. With a dedicated address, you always have the same IP, which may be helpful when connecting to services that require the same IP addresses.
You also do not need to worry about malicious hackers spoofing your shared IP address to gain access to your network. While this is a minor threat, a dedicated address eliminates that risk.
Dedicated IPs also protect you from the bad neighbor effect. This occurs when the shared IP address is blacklisted by a service or a website for previous actions. Even though only one user deserved to be banned, all the other users with the same shared IP are blocked too. It may also occur when too many users access the same site with the same IP. For example, you may occasionally need to prove that you are not a bot when using popular sites such as Google.
Cons of Dedicated IPs
However, there are drawbacks to using a dedicated IP address. There is less anonymity in your actions. When you have a dedicated IP address, your traffic is not as hidden. In other words, because you are the only one using a specific IP, it is evident that a particular online activity is yours.
These IP addresses are also expensive. You may need to pay three to five times the price of a shared one.
Shared IP Advantages
The main two advantages of using a shared IP are price and privacy. Shared IP addresses are cheaper and offer the advantages that you need for anonymous web browsing and downloads.
You can use the Internet anonymously, allowing you to use torrent clients and browse without your ISP and other entities snooping on you.
Disadvantages of Shared IPs
When you connect to the VPN service, you are given a shared IP address for that session. If you need to connect to services that whitelist IP addresses, you may run into trouble.
The other issue is the bad neighbor effect I mentioned before. It may prevent access to sites if that IP address has already been blacklisted due to another user’s activity.
Some people believe that shared IP addresses can slow your Internet speed. This can occur, but it is rare. VPN providers try to spread their users across several IP addresses to maintain efficient speeds.
Some VPNs even provide the server load percentage so that you can select a server with a low load. Each one of those VPN servers corresponds to a different shared IP address. Having a low load means it’s not crowded by many users and has better speeds.
How to Change Between Shared and Dedicated IPs?
Switching from shared to dedicated IP is done in your VPN settings. You can usually find it in the server area. Some providers have a few servers that provide dedicated IPs. Most of the time, such servers are a minority.
Keep in mind that not every VPN offers dedicated IPs. It’s an added expense for the provider. Some VPNs even charge extra to have access to dedicated IPs.
Which Option Should You Use?
As we told you before, it all depends on the intention of the user. In most cases, you will want a VPN that offers a shared IP. It will allow you to enjoy anonymous Internet usage. It is the perfect solution when torrenting, accessing geo-blocked websites, and ensuring that your Internet activity remains hidden.
But, there are a couple of situations where a dedicated IP address is preferred. While you lose some anonymity, it allows you to access sites that use whitelisting.