10 Myths about the use of IPv4 addresses

It’s widely reported that the online platform is evolving rapidly, with social media, mobile and cloud computing acting as the top catalysts. So to us – and many other people – it wasn’t a surprise when in February last year the final batches of IPv4 addresses were allocated, heralding the end of the IPv4 era. Unfortunately the connectivity problems caused by a lack of IPv6 adoption can have a direct impact on the economies of developing countries.

We have therefore compiled a list of the top ten common myths that contribute to wasted IPv4 addresses, and explain why they are misconceptions. This was actually only for internal use, but we thought we could share it with the rest of the world.

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – the myth that hosting a webpage on a dedicated IP address improves its pagerank has been around for some time within the hosting industry, but this is not true. There are a number of factors to consider when thinking about SEO, but a dedicated IP address is not one of them.
  2. Hosting multiple websites – you may host hundreds (or even more) http sites on a single IP address. This is a common practice; for example, most Google services use shared IP addresses. In fact, there are no disadvantages of hosting multiple websites, especially as there are more websites than IPv4 addresses – so shared IPs are the way to go.
  3. Hosting multiple services – hosting different services on a single IP could help to cope with scarce IPv4 addresses. Different services like ftp, email, web or dns use different ports and can therefore safely be shared over one IP address without any interference.
  4. Secondary DNS – some people host primary and secondary name services on the same server, but some have a separate DNS server for each domain they host. Many registries require two different IP addresses to host a domain for redundancy reasons, but one server gives no redundancy at all. Therefore all Leaseweb customers may use our secondary name servers for all domains they host. This way the name services are not only fully redundant, but you also save your resources and IP addresses, and therefore money.
  5. Dedicated IP address for SSL sites – While SSL sites cannot share an IP address with other SSL sites, they do not require a dedicated IP address. You are still free to host one SSL site on an IP address that has other services, like DNS, email or non-SSL web.
  6. Virtual host bandwidth usage – another common myth is to host different http sites on different IP addresses as this is the only way to monitor the traffic generated by each site. In fact, you can still host websites on a shared IP and have detailed traffic statistics for each one. For example, if you have apache web servers in place you may use modules such as mod_logio or mod_watch to track bandwidth/usage data.
  7. Only IPv4 can be used – anything you host or that you want to be made available to anyone on the Internet requires an IPv4 address. Many people have several sites/virtual machines that have a very limited user base, like test environments or management. If you have any sites/servers that are used only by you, such sites or services may as well be hosted on an IPv6 address. This can even lead to improved security of services by making them unavailable to other parts of the Internet.
  8. VPN access – you don’t need a separate IP address for each VPN line you host. If you decide to use Network Address Translation (NAT) and want to have multiple VPN customers behind shared IP address (es), you can host as many VPN lines as you want and you are not limited to the number of IP addresses you can have.
  9. Virtual machines – you need a separate IP address for each virtual machine if you plan to sell them to different customers. However, if you use virtualization as a security measure to isolate different services, you should consider hosting at least some back-end virtual machines on private IP addresses and make them available only from the other VMs on that server. By doing this, you can completely isolate important servers hosting databases, file storage and management information, for example, from the internet and still be able to access them from other virtual machines.
  10. Emailing – you can use IPv6 addresses to offload some email traffic from IPv4. In many cases you actually get better results by sharing IP addresses between different customer campaigns, therefore not requiring as many IPv4 addresses.

We hope that by shedding light on these common myths, we can help to solve some of the issues around the lack of available IP addresses. If you have any questions, comments or maybe even a myth that we haven’t heard of, do let us know! We’re available via our website and on Twitter @Leaseweb. Alternatively, you can leave a comment or question below.

4 comments
  1. dnsGuy
    dnsGuy
    January 11, 2012 at 6:59

    Great article.

    Time for IPv6 is not here yet… :( May be after 3-5 years IPv6 will come.

  2. ShelLuser
    ShelLuser
    February 5, 2012 at 3:36

    One comment on point 5: while its technically true what you say in practice it is better to keep it separated. This is a result of point 2. Say you go to “http://www.mysite.com” and enjoy the stuff. Now, its late and you make a typo when going there again: https://www.mysite.com.

    Now you’re in for it. Not only do your visitor(s) get several errors about an invalid ceritifcate, they also end up on a completely different website!

    For a hosting company that is IMO bad practice. As such… you /always/ want to keep SSL based websites on a separate address. Not because its not technically possible to do otherwise, but because not doing so brings forth a lot of unwanted hassle and possible customer confusion.

  3. WhiteDog
    WhiteDog
    June 4, 2012 at 14:04

    @Nux: while you are correct that “it works”, you might want to read that Wikipedia article again. SNI is not supported by IE (Windows XP), BlackBerry browsers and most Android browsers out there.

    This means that you are only covering about 80% of your visitors with SNI. I would not dare sell this this to customers who run a public site. Perhaps for some internal use (comapny, controlled environments) i’d be okay with it.

    In a few years when Windows XP is no longer supported, Android 4.x is mainstream and RIM no longer exists i’ll start using SNI :)

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