When it comes to hosting a website on a shared server, there is always a quite common controversial issue that comes up time and time again: Is it necessary to have a dedicated IP address for your website and why, if you just can use a shared one?
The chances are if you’re serious about web hosting and getting the best deal and environment for your website to be hosted on, then you’ve probably done some research on IP addresses, SEO, and other things pertaining to your website.
But the one big question website owners bring up over and over again is regarding the viability of using a shared IP Address. Is a shared IP Address safe? Will it affect my SEO? Will it affect my email delivery? Is it worth having a dedicated IP Address VS a much cheaper shared IP address?
So let’s take a look at what you need to know about having a shared IP address.
SHARED IP ADDRESS – THE BASICS
First off, it’s important to understand what an IP address is. IP stands for internet protocol and is an address that is assigned to each domain on the web (Example: 126.96.36.199). They are mapped to domain names using what we call DNS.
You can think of DNS like a phone book for the worldwide web. When you type Google.com into your address bar, a DNS query is performed by your ISP to request the nameservers associated with the domain. The mapping to the IP address is then done behind the scenes by the server which allows you to then use the domain name to access it. Without DNS you would have to type something like 188.8.131.52 to get to Google. Wouldn’t that be fun!
WHAT IS A DEDICATED IP ADDRESS?
A dedicated IP address is just what it sounds like, it means that your website domain is assigned an IP address that isn’t shared or used by any other domains. It’s your domain’s home on the web not shared with anyone else. So it's like owning your own house with its own address, rather than having a small apartment in a massive shared block.
WHAT IS A SHARED IP ADDRESS?
A shared IP address, unlike a dedicated one, means that your domain is mapped to an address that is shared between multiple domains. Unfortunately, it's quite common nowadays with a lot of cheaper hosting for some providers to throw their clients on IP Addresses sometimes shared with thousands of other websites/domains.
So lets look at what that can affect.
DEDICATED IP VS SHARED: EMAIL DELIVERY
So as we've learned a shared IP is an IP address that is used for multiple websites. Because the IP address of a website is used for multiple sites on the server, the actions of one website owner can affect the IP reputation of everyone sharing that IP on the server.
So for example, if an IP address is blacklisted for sending SPAM email, this will blacklist mail for all the websites using that shared IP address. It's, unfortunately, something we've seen time and time again where a website owner has done nothing wrong but they start seeing their emails not getting delivered to their customers because of the actions of one or more of the thousands of other websites whom they share the IP address with.
We also see the same issue when people send emails on their local computer via a shared IP used by their ISP provider, rather than via a dedicated mail server with their own dedicated IP address.
DEDICATED IP VS SHARED: PERFORMANCE AND SEO
A dedicated IP address can also provide for better performance. Dedicated IP addresses are faster to load than shared IP addresses. This results in users (and Google) arriving on a website faster and decreases downtime.
We find with shared hosting and shared IP addresses you are at more risk of regular downtime for your website because of performance issues.
The speed of your website impacts your search result essentially. So, you always need to strive for making your website as fast as possible.
If your account is located on a shared hosting server sharing the same IP with another website handling high traffic or simply thousands of other website generating high traffic between them, then that's going to affect the performance and ranking of your website. Especially if the other sites you share your IP address with has a lot of visitors and contains heavy content, which can then slow down your website. And the speed impacts SEO as it influences search engine ranking position with Google.
DEDICATED IP VS SHARED: SECURITY
On a shared server, with a shared IP address you may well be sharing that IP Address with a website that has been marked as malware. In such cases, some network security programs can “null route” requests to these IPs and it will make your website unreachable. Also, some anti-virus software may mark all websites with the same IP as malware, which will cause false alerts against your website and such kind of alerts can be displayed in most of the modern browsers (for example, 'This site may harm your computer' or 'The website ahead contains malware'). So having a dedicated IP can be a good way out.
HOW CAN I KNOW IF I'M USING A DEDICATED OR SHARED IP ADDRESS
If It wasn't made clear to you when you signed up for your hosting if you were going to be sharing an IP Address or not then luckily there are many websites that can check for you.
View DNS Website is a great little free resource that can let you check. Just drop in your domain name and click the Go button and you check in seconds.
So in this example the website being checked is sharing its IP Address with 1030 other websites - NOT GOOD!
SO WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Well if you find you are using a shared IP Address with other websites then you should ask your existing web hosting provider if they can give you a dedicated IP Address. If they say no or try and charge you the earth however then I'd run, as you aren't dealing with a good hosting provider.
As for us, we care about our customers, their online reputation and the integrity and performance of their website, email and traffic so on our hosting packages we change no more than a nominal £2 a month for a dedicated IP Address and on some of our packages it's totally free!
I hope that helps and gives you a bit more insight into what is a hot topic for many website owners who want to make sure their website is hosted well and not damaging their reputation and customer experience.