The question of whether or not you should use a dedicated IP address or a shared IP address for WordPress hosting can be quite controversial. In fact, it’s a topic that comes up often here at Kinsta.
This is partially due to the amount of wrong and outdated information on the web in regards to dedicated IPs and how they work. We’ve found that in 99% of scenarios, you don’t need a dedicated IP. While this might conflict with what you’ve read, bear with us.
In this post, we’ll explain what both a dedicated IP and shared IP address are, and some of the major differences between the two configurations.
We’ll debunk some of the myths you might have heard regarding how they impact things such as email, SSL, SEO, and more.
Let’s get started!
What Is an IP Address?
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 (for example: 184.108.40.206).
You can think of the DNS as a phone book for the world wide web. When you type Google.com into your address bar, a DNS query is performed by your ISP to request the nameservers associated with that domain.
The mapping to the IP address is then done behind the scenes by the server, which allows you to use the domain name to access it. Without DNS, you would have to type in something like “220.127.116.11” to get to Google.
Wouldn’t that be fun?!
Currently, there are two types of IP addresses being used on the web, and even locally by ISPs and devices such as your home router. They are IPv4 and IPv6:
- Example of IPv4 address: 18.104.22.168
- Example of IPv6 address: 0:0:0:0:0:ffff:d83a:d9ce
We won’t go too much into detail about these but what you need to know is that the internet has been growing so fast that it needed a larger address space. Basically, we ran out of IPs!
One reason IPv6 was developed is to ensure the web can keep expanding and new IP addresses can be assigned. However, when it comes to determining whether or not you need a dedicated IP address vs a shared IP address, everything still applies to both IPv4 and IPv6.
What Is a Dedicated IP Address?
A dedicated IP address is just what it sounds like: it means your 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.
You can think of this as a dedicated phone line. A dedicated IP is typically assigned to your domain by your hosting provider or is an add-on that can be purchased for a small fee.
What Is a Shared IP Address?
A shared IP address, unlike a dedicated one, means your domain is mapped to an address that is shared between multiple domains. A shared IP is quite common nowadays with most hosting providers.
That’s because, for many configurations, there is no need for a dedicated IP address. However, we’ll get into more of the reasoning behind that in a moment.
One thing that’s important to point out is that just because your site is using a shared IP address, it doesn’t mean it’s using shared hosting.
Shared hosting typically means that you’re sharing hardware and networking resources with other users on a server, which could include an IP address. While a lot of times these go hand in hand, that’s not always the case.
For example, at Kinsta we use LXD managed hosts and orchestrated LXC software containers for each website.
What this means is that every site is housed in its own isolated container, which has all the software resources required to run it (Linux, Nginx, PHP, MariaDB). The resources are 100% private and are not shared with anyone else, or even between your own sites.
So while we use shared IP addresses, we don’t offer shared hosting. In fact, our hosting platform doesn’t fall into any of the traditional hosting categories. Our entire infrastructure is built on the Google Cloud Platform and is very different from traditional shared, VPS, or dedicated infrastructure. Check out more of our advanced features!
What Is an External IP/Address Proxy?
If you’re a Kinsta customer, the external IP address of your WordPress site can be found in your MyKinsta dashboard under the site’s Info tab:
This is typically used by hosts that use a load balancer or services that put you behind a Web Application Firewall (WAF). It is the address that other servers see when your site connects to another server.
For example, yourdomain.com might be originally mapped to “22.214.171.124”, but it’s routed through an external IP (such as “126.96.36.199”). That’s what will be used by services connecting to your domain.
This is important to understand because if your site connects to a third-party payment processor like PayPal, you might need to provide PayPal with the external IP address. That way they can whitelist the IP on their end.
Dedicated IP vs Shared: Network and Site Speed
At this point, you may be curious about whether you should use a dedicated IP address for your WordPress sites.
If you search the web, you’ll probably see some of the following reasons used to argue the case for dedicated IPs:
- Using a dedicated IP for networking enables you to visit your website via its IP address (since it is the only domain mapped to that IP). For example, if you type in “188.8.131.52” you would go directly to Google because that is its dedicated IP address.
- It also provides another easy way to get access to your server via FTP, if for some reason your DNS was still propagating or had recently changed.
In our opinion, neither of the above reasons are real advantages. When was the last time you visited a website via its IP address? Probably never. As for the second reason, many users simply edit their host’s file. This is a much more reliable approach.
For some hosts, it is true that a dedicated IP could be an advantage, as it might provide a way to prevent CPU throttling from long-running processes attached to that IP. However, in our opinion, hosts should never be throttling CPUs.
In fact, we never throttle usage here at Kinsta. That’s exactly why we use isolated container technology, to ensure that every customer gets the resources they pay for.
Additional port access is another possible advantage. However, most hosts today block standard ports since they’re easy to abuse, even when issuing dedicated IPs. This is usually because they are still using underlying providers such as Google Cloud Platform or AWS, which don’t allow certain ports for communication.
A Shared IP Address Doesn’t Mean Slower Site Performance
We’ve also had clients ask about speed as it pertains to dedicated IPs vs shared IPs. The performance of your site will not be impacted by using a shared IP address:
In fact, almost every customer that migrates to Kinsta sees massive performance improvements! That’s even true for those coming from dedicated IP addresses.
Dedicated IP vs Shared: Email
Email is one area where we sometimes recommend getting a dedicated IP. But there’s a twist. This is usually only beneficial for large volume senders (we’re talking in the 100,000+ emails per year range).
Even then, we don’t recommend getting a dedicated IP through your hosting provider. In fact, if you go with a dedicated IP and only send a low volume of email, it could hurt you.
The main reason you would want a dedicated IP for sending email from your WordPress site or transactional emails (such as ecommerce sales emails) is that IPs have a reputation.
This is especially important when it comes to ISPs and delivery rates. An IP’s reputation can impact your delivery rate and the ability to reach your customers’ inboxes.
Why You Should Use a Third-Party Email Service Provider
A good way to think about how email works with typical hosts is that it’s like shared hosting. You are tied to IP addresses that your host has configured for outgoing email.
If something goes wrong with that system, such as a client suddenly spamming, there is a chance the IP address could get blacklisted for spam. Then, you’re suddenly left at the mercy of your host, waiting for it to resolve the issue with the provider or ISP. This could result in spotty delivery and wait times for your emails, which is never a good thing.
Therefore, we always recommend going with a third-party solution for email sending. Never use your hosting provider. There are many transactional email services that are free for up to over 10,000 emails per month, and very cheap after that.
Third-party email marketing software platforms and transactional email services are set up and configured in such a way that they can greatly increase your odds of hitting your customers’ inboxes. They also have entire teams working day and night to ensure that emails reach their destinations and that their IPs aren’t blacklisted.
Also, you should think of shared IP addresses differently when it comes to outsourcing emails. Most third-party email services will charge you an additional monthly fee to use a dedicated IP address for sending.
However, if you aren’t handling large volumes of email, this could possibly hurt you. A few bad reports can damage your IPs reputation. Shared IPs from email services typically are “warmed up”, ready to go, and monitored very closely by experts to ensure high delivery rates.
In fact, we deal with this topic so much that we have an entire blog post dedicated to it. Check out the additional reasons you should go with third-party email services rather than using your host.
Dedicated IP vs Shared: SSL and Security
Now let’s dive into what you should know about a dedicated IP address vs a shared IP address as it pertains to SSL. This is one area that has actually changed quite a bit over the past decade.
SNI allows hosting providers to use multiple SSL certificates on a single IP address. Basically, it sends the visitor the certificate that matches the requested server name.
When this was first developed, the big issue was browser support. However, those days have come and gone. According to data from “Can I Use…,” browser support for SNI is close to 99%:
The only browsers that don’t support SNI are those running Internet Explorer on Windows XP and the most outdated versions of Android, Chrome, and iOS browsers. Windows XP holds only a tiny market share, and few of those users are running IE.
Using Shared IP for SSL
Simply put, unless you’re hosting a WordPress site for enterprise clients who have never upgraded their systems, a dedicated IP isn’t something you need to worry about. In fact, you shouldn’t use one due to security issues like the POODLE vulnerability in older browsers.
Through Kinsta’s Cloudflare integration, SSL certificates are applied automatically for all your WordPress sites. Our free Cloudflare SSLs also supports wildcard domains. However, you are also free to apply your own non-Cloudflair, custom SSL certificates to your domains.
Nowadays, shared IP addresses work just fine for SSL. Security is also no longer a concern, thanks to our isolated container technology. You can check out our free malware removal process for more information.
Cloudflare routes your site traffic and visitor requests through its globally-distributed anycast network. When requests are made, it returns a Cloudflare IP address rather than your origin IP, preventing attackers from being able to directly attack your server.
When your domain is proxied by Cloudflare, you belong to the pool of IP addresses sharing the Cloudflare network. Therefore, the platform doesn’t support dedicated IP addresses.
Dedicated IP vs Shared: SEO
Another popular topic is how dedicated IPs vs shared IPs affect SEO. First, it’s important to keep in mind that, when discussing anything SEO-related, we can only share what we’ve learned as well as what others have documented in the industry.
As many know, Google doesn’t have a magic checklist that explains exactly what actions are right or wrong. However, it does offer the Search Essentials guidelines — and dedicated IP addresses aren’t on there.
In fact, many of the top brands on the web (Google, Target, CNN, Coca-Cola) are using shared IP addresses to host multiple domains. A simple reverse-IP lookup reveals this.
What’s more, some of the team members here at Kinsta have been doing SEO for 10+ years and we’ve migrated thousands of WordPress sites. In short, when it comes to quality WordPress hosting and SEO, a dedicated IP is most likely not going to help you. We’ll explain why.
The Importance of Quality Hosting for Shared IPs
Notice that we said “quality WordPress hosting”.
This is because the type of IP you’re using could be a concern if you’re using a low-quality host, which allows spammy or hacked sites to continue running on its platform.
Just as with email reputation, IPs can get blacklisted, although typically it’s by domain name rather than IP. Not to worry, though. Google is actually quite smart and usually understands that a website may be on shared hosting and you can’t control websites that share the same IP or IP subnet.
Another site sharing your IP could even have been hit with a negative SEO attack.
There are many different types of malware and spam that Google takes into consideration and it knows that people are using shared IP addresses.
What to Do If Your Shared IP Gets Blacklisted
Although Google does not blacklist lightly, there are times when you may unintentionally end up on a blacklist, even with no malicious intent or wrongdoing.
If your IP is supposedly blacklisted, there are some steps you can take to try to “unblacklist” it.
After you confirm that your network and mail server are properly configured, the first step is to go to the blacklist page and see if it prescribes details for resolving the issue. For example, it may ask you to correct something with your DNS records or SMTP banners.
The next step is to scan your computer and network for viruses or vulnerabilities. If no patches or problems are detected and you’re sure your computer is clean, contact the blacklist site to request removal. Then carefully follow their IP address removal instructions.
Self-removal generally lets you take yourself off the blacklist quickly, assuming this is the first time your IP address has been blacklisted. Time-based removal is an automated process where your IP address is removed after a week or two (or longer, depending on the degree and frequency of offense).
At Kinsta, we have active and passive measures to stop attacks and malicious intent in its tracks. We monitor uptime, look out for DDoS attacks, scan for malware, and have hardware firewalls in place.
All sites are monitored and secured 24/7. We shut down spammers immediately, and fix hacked sites as soon as we become aware of them. We also have certain sites we don’t allow, as stated in our Terms of Service. Therefore, even though we use shared IP addresses, the risks are minimal to non-existent.
How Switching IPs Affects SEO
Another concern we hear from some customers is how SEO might be impacted when you change IPs. If you change hosting providers, or even implement a security service such as Cloudflare or Sucuri, Google is going to see a new IP address attached to your domain.
However, we have migrated all sorts of sites, everyone from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Based on that experience, we can reassure you that this isn’t something you need to worry about.
If you want a little more reassurance as it pertains to rankings, here’s a quote from Matt Cutts, the former head of the webspam team at Google:
“I’m happy to affirm that this statement which was true in 2003 is still true now. Links to virtually hosted domains are treated the same as links to domains on dedicated IP addresses.”
Here is another confirmation from John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Analyst:
“All the same IP address — that’s really not a problem for us. It’s really common for sites to be on the same IP address. That’s kind of the way the internet works. A lot of CDNs (content delivery networks) use the same IP address as well for different sites, and that’s also perfectly fine.”
Huge companies change hosting providers and IPs all the time. They wouldn’t do so if rankings were harmed, and security solutions such as Cloudflare and Sucuri wouldn’t even exist!
Can You Migrate a Dedicated IP?
While we’re on the topic of changing IPs, a common question we see is whether or not you can migrate a dedicated IP to a new host. The answer is no.
The reason for this is because you can’t have two hosting accounts for the same domain name. Every time you migrate your domain to a new server, the IP changes. Therefore, if you have a dedicated IP on one server, you can’t move it between hosting providers. You would need to get a new IP address.
This is something to consider if you’re using shared hosting but want to purchase a dedicated IP as an add-on, which we do not recommend. We’ll explore this a bit further in the next section.
Dedicated IP vs Shared: Pricing
When it comes to WordPress hosting and IP address configuration, another aspect to consider is pricing. The costs of a dedicated IP and a shared IP depend on your hosting provider, as well as the length of service.
Typically, dedicated IPs cost more than shared, and can range anywhere from a few dollars per month to over $100 per month. Some providers include a dedicated IP with high-performance plans or let you purchase one as an add-on feature.
It’s important to remember that purchasing a dedicated IP as an add-on for shared hosting is not the same as paying for dedicated hosting. Also, not all providers offer dedicated IPs.
Conversely, you can use a shared IP on hosts that don’t offer shared hosting. At Kinsta, we don’t offer shared hosting and all of our plans come with shared IPs.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to choose between a dedicated IP vs shared IP address based on price alone. Rather, it’s important to consider what’s included in the cost of the type of plan you choose, as well as the quality of the web host.
There are a lot of myths and misinformation out there surrounding dedicated IP and shared IP addresses. Hopefully, this post helped provide a little insight into which is the better option for hosting your WordPress site.
- Just because a WordPress host uses shared IP addresses doesn’t mean it’s offering shared hosting. There’s a difference between the two. We use shared IP addresses by default here at Kinsta, but we don’t offer shared hosting.
- The speed of your site won’t be harmed by using a shared IP address.
- A dedicated IP can benefit you if you’re sending large volumes of email. However, we never recommend using your web host for email sending. Therefore, when choosing a host, this is not something you should be concerned with.
- Using a dedicated IP for SSL is a thing of the past. Hosts now allow you to upload custom SSL certificates and some offer free certificates with Let’s Encrypt (thanks to SNI technology).
- If you’re using a high-quality application, database, and managed WordPress host (like Kinsta), you don’t need to be concerned with your SEO being impacted.
- You cannot migrate your IP between hosting providers. However, changing IPs is fine. Fortune 500 companies do this all the time.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Or if you have any questions, feel free to comment below!