Dedicated IP or Shared IP Address?

People are often quick to label shared IP addresses as unsafe, slow, and unreliable. While there are advantages and disadvantages to both options, the typical user really benefits most from a shared IP address. However, the choice may depend on how you plan to use the VPN.

Before spending money on a VPN service, you should ensure that you understand the differences between dedicated and shared IP addresses to determine which option works best for you.

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.

Pros and Cons of Using a Dedicated IP Address

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 useful when connecting to services that whitelist 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.

The bad neighbor effect

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. Such actions are made by one user, but 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.

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 certain IP, it is obvious 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.

Pros and Cons of Using a Shared IP Address

Shared IP addresses are cheaper and offer the advantages that you need for anonymous web browsing and downloads. However, there are also a couple of drawbacks to consider.

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. As mentioned, this may prevent access to sites if that IP address has already been blacklisted due to another user’s activity. These drawbacks are not major. The chances of visiting a site where the shared IP address has been blacklisted is incredibly low.

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 providers 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 a lot of users and it has better speeds.

The main two advantages of using a shared IP are price and privacy. You get the best of both when you share an IP address with other users. You can use the Internet anonymously, allowing you to use torrent clients and browse without your ISP and other entities snooping on you.

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.