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Floating IP Addresses and GridPane

4 min read

Introduction

A floating IP address is an additional IP address that you can attach to one of your servers in a particular datacenter, and that you can also instantly switch between other servers at that same datacenter.

In general, they aren’t necessary for the vast majority of websites, but they do have a few potential use cases where they can prove to be useful.

In this article, we’ll look at how to use them with your GridPane servers and a handful of scenarios where they may make sense for you.

Floating IPs and Your GridPane Servers

By default, all of your servers come with an IP address that should be static (meaning that it will never change). This default static IP (NOT the floating IP), is the one that will be used inside your GridPane account.

This will happen automatically when provisioning servers via API. When provisioning custom servers, always be sure to use the static IP that was automatically assigned, and not the floating IP.

Floating IPs are only for your websites

To make use of floating IPs you can point your website/s DNS to this address instead of the static IP. Your sites will still work with your GridPane account. You could actually access your sites via both IP addresses with a local redirect.

Overview

  • Floating IP Address: Website DNS records point here and this is what Search Engines and DNS lookups see as the site’s IP (if not proxied).
  • Static, Default IP Address: The IP that GridPane uses to manage your server.

Use Cases

Below we’ll look at 4 different use cases where a floating IP could come in handy: 

  1. Scaling up/migrating with no downtime or DNS changes
  2. Website relaunch
  3. SEO
  4. You don’t control a website’s DNS

Scaling up/migrating with no downtime or DNS changes

This covers a few different scenarios: –

  1. We release a new stack (e.g. a stack running on a newer version of Ubuntu) and you want to migrate all sites on an older server to a new server with the new stack.
  2. You need a bigger server temporarily as your server provider doesn’t allow you to scale the server back down after resizing (Vultr and some custom servers depending on the provider).
  3. You’re upgrading to a new type of server in the same datacenter to take advantage of better hardware.

Here you would simply clone your site/s across with our cloning feature, and then when you’re ready, switch the floating IP over to the new server to set them live instantly. There would be no need to manually change each website’s DNS records.

Website Relaunch

You have a big important project that’s been rebuilt and it’s living on a different server. When you’re ready to set it live, simply switch the floating IP from the older server to the new server and your project will be instantly live to the world.

This typically only makes sense for larger-scale projects.

SEO

From time to time we get asked whether all websites can have their own IP addresses for SEO purposes. The answer is probably not unless you only host a small number of sites per server and your server provider allows for multiple floating IP addresses.

However, if you only have a handful of sites that require their own unique IP address then floating IPs can help you accomplish this easily.

You don’t control a website’s DNS

This ties into number 1 above, but it’s worthy of its own mention simply because when the time comes where you do need to move a site to a new server, no matter the reason, a floating IP address means you don’t need to go to your client and have the whole “please change your DNS records” conversation.

You simply clone the site, then switch the floating IP over and you’re done (assuming you use the same provider and the same datacenter of course).

IaaS Provider Guides

Below are links to the floating IP documentation on DigitalOcean, Vultr, and UpCloud. Linode appears to offer floating IP addresses on request (contact their support), and they are not available on Lightsail.

  1. DigitalOcean Floating IPs
  2. Vultr “Reserved” IPs
  3. UpCloud Floating IPs
  4. Linode Floating IPs – contact their support
  5. AWS Lightsail: N/A