Check out the YouTube instructional video on configuring a static IP address.

HOW-TO: Configuring a Static IP Address on your Windows PC is a snap!

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To many people who have been working with and around PC’s for a while, this HowTo may seem, at first, a bit unneeded or unnecessary. But that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is, there are many many people with PC’s that don’t have the first clue about how to do anything other than start them up, send emails, and surf the web. And for many, that might be all they ever need or want. But there are many people new to PC’s that want to learn all the small stuff that the rest of us “seasoned professionals” already know.

You can blame it on the PC Industry itself. They have created a massive, multi-billion dollar industry on the assumption that a PC can be treated like a Consumer Appliance, not like the extremely complex scientific machine that it really is. We’ve even bred a whole generation of technology professionals that have no idea what a “nibble” is or how the 1’s and 0’s in a computer’s memory relate to Hexadecimal, and some don’t even know what Hexadecimal is. They’ve heard of it, and can use it effectively as a buzz-word. But tell me what “base and displacement” refers to and then I’ll know I’m talking to someone with a modicum of background on basic computer science. Of course, this isn’t everybody. There is a whole generation of self taught computer experts that can run circles around my own generous but limited knowledge. But that’s a topic for another post.

I created a video and blog post about configuring your Router to allow remote desktop connections from outside your home or office. It’s enjoyed a fairly large number of views and it dives into what I thought were fairly basic concepts. But I found through comments that some people got lost in the video because they aren’t familiar with how it all works and therefore couldn’t follow the dialog. I saw a need for some back to basics videos and instructions from this.

You can expect more of the same from me as I have been working on a list of “back to basics” computer instructionals for the newbies out there that are looking for how to do all this basic stuff. There will always be newbies, at all ages, who get bitten by the bug and embark on a life of self-torture trying to learn everything they can about this awesome machine, the modern day PC.

OK, so on to configuring a static IP address.

There are only a few things you need to know to configure a static IP address on your PC:

  • The IPv4 Default Gateway of your network.
  • The IPv4 Subnet Mask of your network.
  • The IPv4 DNS Servers you will be using
  • The IPv4 Address range used by your DHCP Server to assign IP Addresses

About IPv4

IPv4 is the older IP technology that is used to give each computer a unique address on a network. It consists of four numbers, separated by a “period”, that range from 0 to 255. For those who are really new, most computer assignments start with 0, which is considered the 1st assignment. So if you have 256 assignments, the numbers would be 0~255. Why 256 assignments? It all boils down to Hexadecimal, which is the base-16 numbering system used by all computers. Hexadecimal is outside of the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that it is a numbering system with 16 possible characters in each column – 0 through F or:
0123456789ABCDEF
once you hit F, you introduce the next column. So after F is 10, after 1F is 20, and so on. After FF is 100. This is the basis of how all computers work. FF translates to 256 in decimal.

IPv6 is a newer technology that uses a completely different level of numbering. Where IPv4 is 32-bit, IPv6 is 128-bit. IPv6 was developed to solve the problem of running out of IP addresses for hosts on the Internet, primarily. While you can have 4,294,967,296 combinations of 0~255 4 times, the possibilities for IPv6 are effectively endless.

IPv6 and IPv4 will continue to work side by side for many years to come, but eventually IPv4 will be phased out. But for now, just know that internal networks (like the one in your house or small office) pretty much use IPv4.

The IPv4 Default Gateway of your network.

The default gateway of your network is the address of the Router that connects to the Internet. The router has two addresses: the LAN (Local Area Network) address and the WAN (Wide Area Network). For the computers inside your home or office, the Router’s LAN address is how you find it, and when you are configuring your network adapter you’ll need this number.

The IPv4 Subnet Mask of your network.

I almost don’t need to talk about this for small home and office networks but it needs mentioning. Normally, this will be 255.255.255.0 by default. However, you may be inside a larger company that – against all security norms – will allow you to set up this port forwarding, and they have multiple subnets in their network. In that case, you’ll need to know the subnet you are on, but most likely you have a static IP address already. Most larger companies will force you to use an encrypted VPN tunnel and they provide the software for this (Citrix, Watchguard, etc.), and you don’t need this tutorial.

The IPv4 DNS Servers you will be using

In order for www.appdataworks.com to be found on the internet, DNS servers are used. DNS Servers translate the words www.appdataworks.com into their IP address so the web site or web based resource you are trying to reach can be found. DNS servers are all over the world, and most ISPs have their own. The IP Address translations for web URL’s is propagated throughout the internet to these servers. When you create a new Domain Name with a Domain Registrar, the IP address of the hosting server that hosts your domain will be propagated. It doesn’t take long, either. How this happens is beyond the scope of this article.

DNS Servers are normally configured in Pairs, and you typically use 2 IP Addresses when you configure your network adapter. The reason for 2 addresses is redundancy. Suppose your ISP has only 1 DNS Server and it goes down? The entire Internet would be unreachable basically until they get it going again. So most always have 2. Suffice to say that you’ll need the IP Addresses of the two DNS Servers that are  already listed in a non-static (DHCP assigned) network adapter’s settings in order to configure your adapter.

The IPv4 Address range used by your DHCP Server to assign IP Addresses

Your home and small office routers, the kind provided by your ISP or the ones you can buy off the shelf at your favorite computer store, are configured as DHCP Servers. DHCP stands for “Dynamic Host Control Protocol”. DHCP’s job is to assign a lease and an IP address for a specific period of time to any PC or other device on the network that requests one. If DHCP is turned off and your devices don’t have static IP addresses, they won’t be able to communicate through the router.

Most routers come out of the box with a range of IP addresses assigned to DHCP. Some will expose the entire range of 0~255, or most of it. That’s fine if every single device in your home or office can use a dynamically assigned IP address.  But since we want to assign an address to at least one computer, we should restrict the “pool” of addresses DHCP can use. Typically, I set up my routers to use 40 IP addresses for DHCP and the rest are available to me to assign to devices. 40 is too many for most homes or small offices but too many is better than none. It still leaves 215 addresses (216 minus the Router’s own address) available for configuring static IP’s. Again, that’s too many, but too many is better than too few. I usually will reserve 140~179. So for example, in my Router, the Router’s LAN address is 192.168.0.1, so I reserve:

192.168.0.140 ~ 192.168.0.179

You do this in the Router Settings. To get to your router configuration settings, you’ll use the LAN address in your browser. Once you know this by checking the settings of your network adapter (which we’ll cover next) you can simply use the IP address as a URL. In my case, I would use:

http://192.168.0.1

but make sure you check first with your Network card. Your router can be 192.168.1.1 (another commonly used LAN address) or your router can be configured with a completely different set of numbers like 117.112.134.1, in which case all of the computers on the network will have to have IP addresses starting with 117.112.134.

Configuring the static IP Address on your Network Adapter

It makes no difference if you are using a Wired or Wireless network. The only thing that you really need to be aware of is if you have both wired and wireless enabled on your PC, you can’t set both adapters to the same IP address. Typically you configure static IP addresses for specific reasons like using a VPN client or a program like TeamViewer to handle remote connections, or the PC has a server on it (SQL, IIS – stuff developers use) and needs to have a static address. And because you really only need one static IP address on any one PC for most purposes, I would configure the wired one (if both are enabled) to use a static IP address and let the wireless adapter get it’s address assigned.

The first thing you want to do is open the Control panel and find and open Network and Sharing Center. This assumes Windows Vista and after (nobody should be using XP anymore so I’m not providing instructions for it). On the left side you’ll see Change Adapter Settings.

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Network and Sharing Center screenshot showing where to change network adapter settings.

Click that and Control PanelNetwork and InternetNetwork Connections will open:

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Network Adapters list showing the Ethernet adapter we will be working with.

Right-click on your Ethernet adapter and select Status:

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Right-click menu for Ethernet adapter

The Ethernet Status dialog opens. Click the Details button:

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Ethernet Status dialog showing where to click to see Details of your Ethernet connection

Network Connection Details opens:

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Network Connection Details dialog showing the values you need to write down – you’ll need these for later.

 

Here you will want to write down the values that you see highlighted above:

  • IPv4 Subnet Mask
  • IPv4 Default Gateway
  • IPv4 DNS Servers (both IP addresses)

After you’ve documented the values you’ll need later, click the Close button. Leave the Ethernet Status dialog open.

Now, you are going to have to use your investigative skills to get around on your own router to find the next settings. My Router is a UBEE router provided by Bright House Networks.  My screens will be different from yours, but what you are looking for are two things:
DHCP Address Block (addresses DHCP can use for assigning)
STATIC IP ADDRESSES in use (these are IP addresses – if any – that are already in use on your network).
Here are examples from my Router. I reach my router using http://192.168.0.1 and I enter the username and password on the Login screen.  NOTE: You will need to find out the username and password for your Router. Most routers are distributed by ISP’s with the default username and password intact. Just do a google search for “default username and password for <enter your router model#>” and that should get you what you need.

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Ubee router Gateway – DHCP screen showing the block of IP addresses that are assigned to be used by DHCP

Once logged into my router, I head for the DHCP settings page. Here you will want to look at the DHCP Address block to know what addresses to NOT use. FYI – you can use any address, even from the DHCP block if you want to, as long as it’s not already in use elsewhere on the network, but it’s best to leave the reserved block for DHCP to use.

The above screenshot shows that addresses 140~179 are reserved for DHCP, so I want to use 180 or higher. Of course I can use 139 or lower, but I reserve those addresses for servers on the network. This is just an environment decision on my part, but for the sake of this tutorial, just know you should use any address outside the block of reserved addresses as long as they’re not in use.

To find out which addresses NOT to use, you’ll have to find the existing list of IP addresses that are assigned either by DHCP or are already static. On my Router, it looks like this:

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Ubee Router DHCP Client list showing static IP addresses

Notice that at the bottom there are two STATIC IP Addresses: 192.168.0.180 and 192.168.0.181. All of the assigned addresses are between 140 and 179 as you can see. So I’ll want to use 192.168.0.182 for my PC. You will want to write down the IP address you want to use that doesn’t appear in this list already.

With this knowledge intact, go back to the Ethernet Status dialog and click the Properties button:

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Ethernet Status dialog showing where to click for Properties of your Ethernet Adapter

which will open up the Ethernet Properties dialog.

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Ethernet Properties dialog showing the IPv4 item selected and the Properties button used to configure IPv4

Scroll the list down until you find the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) line. Select it and click the Properties button. This will open the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) Properties dialog.

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IPv4 screen configured for dynamic IP address assigned by DHCP.

 

In the upper section on the General Tab:

  • Select Use the following IP Address
  • In the IP Address box, enter your static IP address that you decided on when you looked at the Router settings. In my case, I’m using 192.168.0.182 but you will want to use your own – don’t use mine. If you followed the instructions, you should have determined a safe IP address that you can use on your own network.
  • In the Subnet mask box, 255.255.255.0 should appear automatically. Unless you wrote something different when you were documenting the Network Adapter settings earlier, you should leave this alone.
  • In the Default Gateway box, enter the default gateway you wrote down before. Mine is 192.168.0.1 but yours might be different.
  • Select Use the following DNS server addresses
  • In Preferred DNS Server enter the first value you wrote down earlier.
  • In Alternate DNS Server enter the second value you wrote down earlier.

When you are done, your screen should look something like this:

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IPv4 Properties dialog showing static IP address has been assigned as well as all other necessary configuration settings.

Click OK to close the IPv4 Properties dialog.

Click Close to close the Ethernet Properties dialog.

Click Details on the Ethernet Status dialog and the Network Connection Details dialog will open, which should now look something like this:

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Network Connection Details dialog showing the new settings after configuring the static IP address.

And that’s it! You’ve just configured your PC to use a permanent, static IP address.

A word of caution and a note on DHCP in your workplace. This article was written to help you learn how to assign a static IP address without any regard to why you may want or need to do this. In most larger company workplaces you won’t be able to mess around with these settings, and if you can, don’t do it without express permission. Some companies make you sign network usage agreements that will put your job at risk if you mess with these settings. However, a lot of us work completely from home, or are computer hobbyists wanting to learn this stuff and apply it at home, or own and/or control your own small business office where you do have freedom to configure these types of settings. In my case, my commercial office is mine and all of the resources are mine so I do what I want to do.

Also keep in mind that in many business environments with an IT department, all of the network IP addresses are documented and assigned manually. DHCP might be turned off completely. This is common for security purposes where the policy is to NOT allow any unknown devices on the network.


Be AWESOME!!!

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Jerry Boutot is a Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) and Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). He owns AppDataWorks, LLC, which develops custom solutions for Desktop Software, Web Applications, Database Systems, and Online Marketing Solutions.

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