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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tech Tip: Benefits of Using Static IP Addresses

Description: Normally, when you hook up devices to your home router (wireless or wired), the router will automatically assign IP addresses to those devices by default (using a DHCP server) using a range that you specify. If you don't specify a range of numbers, the router will have a default range from which it will assign.

    A few examples of IP addresses:

  • Your Router -
  • John's Computer -
  • Jane's Computer -
  • Susie's iPad -

One thing to remember is that your network may have a slight variation on these addresses. In general, the first two numbers, 192 & 168, will be the same as you see here. Your third and fourth numbers may be different. Don't panic! This is just the way the manufacturer of your router decided to set it up.

Take a look above at the highlighted portion of the IP addresses. On your home network, the first three numbers will always be the same for every device, just as they are in the list of examples above. If you were to decide to change your network to 192.168.2, then all devices on the network must be changed to that format in order for the network to be able to communicate. This is an important point to remember whenever you decide to use static IP addresses.

So what is a static IP address? Simply put, it is a network address that you assign to the device - an address that never changes. When addresses are automatically assigned, they are put on a lease which usually lasts a few weeks. Every time your device connects, it is given the same IP address in that time period, but, after the lease is up, the address can change. A power Loss may also cause the router to assign new addresses to devices on the network.

 Why does it matter if the address changes? In most cases, it actually doesn't matter. You never notice the change. However, there are a few situations where it does matter.

  • Security Systems - You won't be able to monitor from a remote location if your DVR suddenly has a different address. IP Cameras may not be found by the software, or be available for remote browsing.
  • Media Server - Depending on the software, you may not be able to access the server until you update the address.
  • Network Attached Storage - There's a possibility you won't see the drive anymore until you update the address.
  • Print Server - You won't be able to print until the address has been updated on any PC or device trying to print to it.
It is important to note that the last three situations may have extra software running to compensate for the address change. For example, some Security Camera software may use the camera network name or MAC assignment to detect and identify compatible hardware on a network.

If you are convinced that a static IP address is right for your situation, your choices need to be configured in two places - the router and the device.

  1. Open up your router's configuration page and look for your LAN settings. Within these settings, you should see an IP address range for the DHCP server. The address range will look something like this:
    • 192.168.x.___ to 192.168.x.___
      Take note of these ranges. Remember, the only number we're concerned about is the last number. Don't panic if your third number is different from the example shown here.
      If we assign an address that is within the range you see on the router, there may be a conflict down the road. For example, if your range is -, we cannot assign any IPs that have the same last number in this range, 2-10.
      *Our postal service is set up the same way... Every house is automatically given an address. If we decide to build a house and give it a random street address, it may conflict with an existing house somewhere nearby, and the mail would be a mess.*

  2. Open up your device's network settings (i.e. security DVR or IP Camera). Look for a network setting that mentions the IP address. By default, it is probably set for automatically receive IP or DHCP assigned.Look for the option that lets you use a static IP. Enter an address that is not in the range we saw on the router and apply the new settings. It is sometimes helpful to write this address on a sticky note and attach it to the device so we can easily remember it later.
  3. If you were accessing this device from outside the house, you will also need to update the port forwarding address in the router settings. Find your port forwarding settings and update the address to the one we just made. If you haven't set up the port forwarding at all, please refer to your device's instruction manual as to which port(s) it needs.
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

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