General Discussion  - 
First let me say that I 'learn' a lot from your show. But, I seem to be missing a very important "First Step".  Why do I need to learn about 'static' IP address, subnet mask, and other stuff ?  When my internet provider provides me with a router ? (ATT is my provider...)

Sorry for this 'basic'  question.

I am "not" trying to be mean spirited in this question.
Daniel Armstrong's profile photoJames Berry's profile photoNeil Tsubota's profile photoStephen Hart's profile photo
If you don't understand... Then you don't need to know. Port forwarding and static IPs are required for remote desktop, remote access, IP cams, remote home automation, etc. It's pretty important for anyone trying to properly setup their network and do more than surf the internet.
You need static IP addresses to access your network from out side of your house basically.
The more you know about the technology used in your everyday life, the more you can do with it. If you are interested, network concepts can be very intriguing. Once you understand networking, many cool things are possible like VPN, remote access, over the internet cameras, game server hosting, etc. If you are not interested in networking, then ignore it and there are lots of other cool things
This is the exact same type of question as Cher in Clueless. "Why learn to parallel park, everywhere you go has valet."
For me, assigning static IPs to resources that don't move means that I can always access that resource at that address.  Network attached hard drives, printers, etc are a great example of non computers that make total sense to make into a static (vs dynamic aka DHCP).
If your house needs a 'static' IP address to monitor your web cam, or home automation  system.  What happens when you move out of your apartment, or home ?  

Do the IP addresses then get taken over by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), for 'non-payment' of the bill ?
You can also do the dyndns (or other vendor) option to assign a way to have your outside IP address where it would be accessible by a standard method (but it allows the IP from ISP to shift using an application to refresh the IP with the service).  You don't necessarily need a static IP (and added costs) from your ISP with the options.  Static IPs are most useful for internal resources, unless you are hosting a server that would require the external IP to be static.
Starting point- you know how to get into your router's settings and browse through the various sections and tabs.  

There are 2 meanings of static IP that are being talked about together. 
Everything on the internet needs a unique IP address (like "") so that it can have 2-way conversations.
Your ISP may assign you a static IP address which will be the same for years or it may change every week or so or any time you turn off you modem. You can see it in your router setup screen.

Each device you use on your network needs to have an internal IP address to talk to the router. A typical $50 router has 256 IP addresses (that all start with "192.168") with a few reserved already.  Usually there is a "handshake" and the router assigns it an IP address but if you turn off the laptop or tablet, when you turn it on it will shake hands again and get a random IP address which might be the same or different.

In your router settings, this is called DHCP. You might set your router to use a pool of IP numbers from 100 to 200.
Once you have picked that range, you can make devices have a fixed IP inside the network but you have to stay out of the DHCP range, so you might assign it "11". You have to make sure not to make 2 devices have the same number (eg: keep track in a notebook or in a special file).

Suppose you want to set up "Remote Desktop" to a particular desktop on the network and it says that the port is "3389". In the router under "port forwarding" you would then forward port 3389 to local IP "11" (which might be shown as something like "" )
When you start remote desktop from a laptop in a coffee shop, you will enter the IP address of your house (that you wrote down), then the remote desktop program sends packets with port 3389 so the router knows to forward them to which is always  the desktop  computer. If the house computer used a DHCP address, the port-forwarding wouldn't know which device to talk to from one day to the next.

For $10 or $20 per year, you can get a dynamic DNS provider so that you don't even need to write down your internet IP address and it stays the same (eg: "") even when your IP changes. Inside your router it should show which companies they work with (eg: dyndns). For the cheap price you don't get a full domain, just a sub-domain. For more money ($50 per year) you can get normal sounding domain name like "" You can now create your own subdomains with different port numbers so that different subdomains correspond to different items in your house, like "". You would forward different ports to different fixed IP numbers in your house.

One place you can trip yourself up is that laptops have a wireless network device and a physical plug device. If you set up a fixed IP address when it is plugged in using an ethernet cable, it may become DHCP with a different IP address when you are using it wirelessly. 
This is 'very' helpful ! Thank You Stephen Hart. Now I am getting a better picture on how I can 'start' learning about 'static IP addresses' and why I need it.
+Stephen Hart, you made an excellent post. To add to your explanation, the one thing about having your own website (I have one and use domain specific email addresses), is that there is a need for website hosting (requiring additional resources such as your own computer hardware or paying someone for access to their equipment). A static address provided from an ISP (or other previously mentioned options) would be a reasonable option to allow hosting your own hardware to do a number of things (webcams, website, network attached storage, printers, etc).
It can be expensive, like $50 per month more to have a static IP from your ISP.

  Check your router for which dynamic DNS companies it supports (usually .  Create an account on one of those companies for about $10 per year or $40 per year with a domain.

Now, enter your name and password from the dydns company in your router. Now, when your ISP changes your IP every 3 days or whatever, the router detects it and sends an update to the dydns company and the website works correctly with maybe 1 to 5 minutes downtime.

If your dyndns company is not in your router but you have a computer on all the time, you can get a program (from the dyndns company) that runs in the background and detects if your ISP has changed your IP and updates the record in the same way.

For myself, I can reset the clock for getting a new IP by turning the ADSL modem off for 30 seconds and turning it on, which gets me a new IP. I can time this for when it would not disrupt things. Your ISP may vary.

You can also use the dyndns company to redirect ports. If your ISP blocks port 80 (http), you can  have the dyndns company present it to the outside world as port 80 (so they just type a normal web page) but change it to another port so that your ISP sees packets with a different port and doesn't block it. You just set your web hosting software to use that port. 

You should check your IP every day for a few weeks to see how often it changes. 
Thank you all for your explanations.  This not only seems like an 'investment' in TIME, but also an investment of MONEY. 
Anything to do with home automation or remote cameras is at least $50 per unit. Dynamic DNS is $12 per year.

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