IP Switch...
April 24, 2012 11:23 AM   Subscribe

IP question for associate*: 2 person office, once larger and set up with a server and bunch of static IP addresses. The server is no longer being used. Company website is hosted off site. Is there any reason to have these static IP addresses? Connected with email in any way? .....*"IP" in my case stands for Ignorant Person... ie. I never have understood what IP addresses are all about and how it works with regard to a company. Hence my question.

Can she just dump the IPs and go with a simple wifi setup for the 2 person office?
posted by ecorrocio to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there a reason to change? (If it ain't broke....)

I'd move to DHCP on a wifi box if there was pressing need to make a change. You may find yourself needing a static IP for your laser printer if you have one.

That said, what are you using for a switch/router/access to the internet now?
Is there a reason to keep everything on a wired connection (security reasons)?
If it were a law office I might keep everything wired (though you can use DHCP there as well)
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:29 AM on April 24, 2012

Here's one way to think about it: if the two of you were to work from home for a week, could you turn off the office Internet connection and all the computers there and not notice? I.e. no remote desktop work, no file server, etc.? If so, then a standard home networking setup with NAT would be fine. If not, that gives you an idea of what sort of uses might require the static IP address.
posted by five toed sloth at 11:34 AM on April 24, 2012

Can she just dump the IPs and go with a simple wifi setup for the 2 person office?

If it aint broke don't fix it.

WiFI is unreliable and insecure in comparison to a wired connection. There may be some benefit in using WiFI (mobility, etc.) but I wouldn't switch just because.

Static IP addresses are great because you know where things are and what they are supposed to be. Set it and forget it. DHCP is just another thing to break.

This seems like a BC question, where you are asking how to get from B to C and the answer is really dependent on what A was.

So, what problem exactly are you trying to solve ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:35 AM on April 24, 2012

It's impossible to answer your question with the information given. Saying a machine is a "server" does not tell us anything.

You or your associate are going to have to ask whoever set up this network originally, or someone who understands it now or has the skills to study it and understand it.
posted by fritley at 11:51 AM on April 24, 2012

Thanks... they're using wifi now. There is no server in use. No remote desktop work, file server etc. The older system was set up when the office had 5+ people working there. Now it's 2 and will be that way for the foreseeable future.

CenturyLink internet went down yesterday, and in the process she discovered she could use a new modem. Simplification and ease of setup is an issue too.
posted by ecorrocio at 11:51 AM on April 24, 2012

Static IPs can be used for all kinds of things. If you want to rule out the website and internet, go to a command-line and run:
nslookup yourcompanydomain.com

Compare the Address printed out with your list of Static IPs. If they don't match, they're not used for your website.

Do the same thing for e-mail:
nslookup -type=MX yourcompanydomain.com

This only rules out these two things, of course. If you can log into the control panel for your domain's DNS, you could look at all the records and compare all of the addresses to your Static IP list.
posted by odinsdream at 1:10 PM on April 24, 2012

Static IP addresses are great because you know where things are and what they are supposed to be. Set it and forget it. DHCP is just another thing to break.

Set it, but don't forget it. Write the IP address on a sticker and paste it somewhere obvious on the device, especially if it's something like a router or a network printer that doesn't easily display what it's current IP is. Giving a device a static IP and then forgetting that IP address can be extremely annoying later on when you're trying to expand the network or troubleshoot problems.

I actually find DHCP to be the simpler solution. If a device is configured to request an IP address from a DHCP server, not only does it automatically receive an IP address on the correct network, but it also gets the right DNS servers, the right network gateway, and a bunch of other configuration parameters. If any of these parameters change, you just have to change it once on the DHCP server instead of going from computer to computer, and if you should ever need a list of all the computers and their IP addresses, all you have to do is consult the DHCP server's records. Plus you can easily have the best of both worlds with static DHCP assignments should you need a fixed IP address for port forwarding.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:37 PM on April 24, 2012

I suspect a lot of these answers are a little off the mark... I assume ecorrocio is talking about external, routabe static IPs leased from CenturyLink, probably at a cost of about $15/mo, useful for things like setting up an on-site mail server, or VPNing, or doing your own webhosting or what have you.

If this is the case, yes, with your usage it sounds like it would be fine to dump the static IPs and simplify your office network setup. This does not preclude the advice offered above regarding things like setting up your machines with static private IPs on your internal network for consistency's sake.
posted by drumcorpse at 6:13 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, but do follow odinsdeam's advice about making sure you're not actually still hosting anything in the office before changing your service agreement with CenturyLink. Although if there's no server onsite and the only computer equipment being used is the two workstations/laptops, I think it's a safe bet.
posted by drumcorpse at 6:22 PM on April 24, 2012

Also! Some possible edge cases:

Are your office phones running on a VOIP system? If so, was it set up by CenturyLink or a private contractor? If you have a VOIP system managed by an outside communications firm you may be running a PBX that wants a world-routable IP for remote management.

Do you have printers set up so that you can print to them when you're not in the office? Another case where getting rid of your static IPs could break something.

With all of these disclaimers, I guess I should point out that fritley's advice is ultimately correct-- if you can, get whoever originally set up the network to answer the question. If they're not available, hire a local small-business IT consultant to look over your network setup and tell you if it's safe to get rid of your static IPs. Any competent tech should be able to do this in under an hour, and if you're paying monthly for static IPs, the visit will pay for for itself in short order.
posted by drumcorpse at 6:50 PM on April 24, 2012

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