Are you wondering, “How do I find my IP address? And what is an IP address, anyway?” This article will answer all of your questions about IP addresses. We’ll discuss what an IP address is, how IP addresses work, the different types of IP addresses, and how to find your IP address – on a Mac, Windows, iPhone, or even from your router.
Table of Contents
IP Address Definition
An IP address is a unique address that identifies a device, like a laptop, on the internet or local network. IP stands for “Internet Protocol,” which is the set of requirements for addressing and routing data on the internet. In the simplest terms, an IP address is an identifier that allows data to be sent between devices on a network. Your IP address contains location information and makes devices accessible for communication. The internet needs to differentiate between various computers, routers, and websites. IP addresses help it do that.
An IP address is a critical part of how the internet works.
What is an IP?
Your IP address is a string of numbers separated by periods. IP addresses are expressed as a set of four numbers. Each number in the set ranges from 0 to 255. The full range of IP addresses goes from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.
The assignment of IP addresses is not random. IP addresses are mathematically produced and assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, or IANA, which is a division of the Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. ICANN is a nonprofit organization that was established in the U.S. back in 1998 in order to help maintain the security of the internet and to ensure its usability by everyone. Whenever someone registers a domain online, they have to go through a domain name registrar, who pays a small fee to ICANN in order to register the domain name.
How IP Addresses Work
You might want to understand how IP addresses work if a device is not connecting properly or you want to troubleshoot why your network isn’t working. Internet Protocol is a language like any other. It communicates using set guidelines in order to pass information. All online devices find, send, and exchange information with other devices using this protocol. Internet Protocol is the language that all computers speak. Here is how IP addresses work:
- First, your device indirectly connects to the internet by connecting to a network that is connected to the internet, which then grants your device its own access.
- When you are at home, your network is your Internet Service Provider, or ISP. If you are at your office, it is your company network.
- Your IP address is assigned to your device by your Internet Service Provider.
- All your internet activity goes through the ISP, and they route it back to you by using your IP address. Since the network is the one giving you access to the internet, they assign an IP address to your device.
- However, your IP address can change. For example, if you turn our modem or router off and on, it might change. Or, you can contact your ISP and they will change it for you.
- If you are traveling and take your device with you, your IP address will change. It will not be the same as your home address. That is because you will be using another network to connect to the internet, that will be assigned to you by the ISP of the network you are using. For example, perhaps you are using WiFi at a hotel, airport, or coffee shop.
Types of IP Addresses
There are several different kinds of IP addresses.
Consumer IP Addresses
Every person or home with an internet service plan has two types of IP addresses, and these are their public and private IP addresses. The terms refer to the network’s location. For example, a private IP address is used inside a network, and a public one is used outside a network.
Private IP Addresses
Each device, including computers, smartphones, tablets, speakers, etc, that connects to your internet network has a private IP address. Since more and more devices are adding internet, like printers and smart TVs, it’s likely that the number of private IP addresses in your home is increasing. Your router needs to identify each separate device, and the items need a way to recognize one another. That’s where IP addresses come in. Your router generates private IP addresses in order to uniquely identify each individual device on the network.
Public IP Addresses
A public IP address is the primary IP address associated with your entire network. Though each connected device has its own IP address, they are also included within the main IP address for your network. The public IP address is the address that all devices outside your network will use to recognize it.
There are two forms of public ID addresses: dynamic and static.
Dynamic IP Addresses
Dynamic IP addresses are IP addresses that change regularly and automatically. Internet service providers purchase a large amount of IP addresses and assign them to their clients automatically. Every once in a while, they reassign them and put older IP addresses back into the pool to be used for other customers. This saves money for the ISP. There are also security benefits, because a changing IP address makes it more difficult for hackers to breach your network.
Static IP Addresses
Static IP addresses, on the other hand, remain consistent. The network assigns an IP address and it doesn’t change. Most people don’t need a static IP address. However, if a business plans to host its own server, it’s imperative to have a static IP address. That’s because it makes sure that websites and email addresses tied to the business all have a consistent IP address, which is important in order for other devices to find them online consistently.
Website IP Addresses
There are also two types of website IP addresses, called shared and dedicated.
Shared IP Addresses
Websites that rely on shared hosting plans from web hosting providers are usually one of many sites hosted on the same server. This means that websites will have shared IP addresses.
Dedicated IP Addresses
Other web hosting plans have the option to purchase a dedicated IP address. This makes it easier to get an SSL certificate and allows you to run your own FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server. That makes it simpler to share and transfer files among several people in an organization, and allows anonymous FTP sharing options. A dedicated IP address also means you can access your website using the IP address rather than the domain name, which is helpful if you want to build and test your website before registering your domain.
How to Find Your IP Address
The easiest way to find your public IP address is to use Google. Simply type “what is my IP address?” on Google, and the search engine will show you your address on the top of the page.
There are other websites that can also show you your IP address. They see your IP address because when you visit their website, your route makes a request and reveals your address. Some websites even go further and will show your location.
There are various ways to see your IP address that vary by platform.
How to See Your IP Address In Windows:
- Use the command prompt.
- Search for cmd using Windows search
- In the pop-up box, type ipconfig to find the info.
How to See Your IP Address On a Mac:
- Go to System Preferences
- Select your network, and you should see your IP address.
How to See Your IP Address on an iPhone:
- Go to Settings
- Select WiFi and click the “i” in a circle () next to the network you are on – the IP address will be visible under the DHCP tab.
How to See IP Addresses on Your Router
You can also see IP addresses of other various devices on your network by going into your router. There are different ways to access your router, depending on the brand and software you use. Typically, you can enter the router’s gateway IP address into a web browser on the same network in order to access it. From there, you can look at “attached devices” and see a list of all the devices currently on the network, including their IP addresses.
How to Protect Your IP Address
Unfortunately, there are criminals out there who might wish to track down your IP address for a variety of reasons. There are a few ways you can hide your IP address, including using a proxy server and using a virtual private network, or VPN.
- What is an IP address?
- How do IP addresses work?
- How do I find my IP address?
- What does IP stand for?
- Can my IP address change?