What is An IP Address – How Does it Work?

An IP address is a number that identifies an Internet connection. They are used as the network’s own system of addresses and the purpose is for information sent to reach the correct recipient. If your computer is connected to the internet, it will have an IP address.

Where can I find my IP address?

If you want to know your IP address, there are smart services online that offer IP address lookup. It’s no harder than visiting a site like whatismyipaddress.com or www.whatsmyip.org to find out the IP address that currently identifies you. For private individuals, this usually depends on the choice of Internet operator. Usually, they assign dynamic IP addresses provided by the ISP server. They change at each connection, unlike static IP addresses which retain the same fixed address at all times.

Public and private IP addresses

Something that complicates the matter further is that local networks such as your home network also use IP addresses. After all, many people have several devices such as computers, smartphones, or tablets that often connect wirelessly to a router in the home to get their internet connection.

Each device on the network has a private IP address that is not visible to the outside but identifies the device locally. Then it is technically the router that connects to the internet via the internet provider and gets your public IP address which you would see if you do a search on “what is my ip address?”. If you want to track your private IP address on the home network instead, you can log in to the router using the administrator password.

How does an IP address work?

The standard used since the internet broke through is called IPv4 (IP version 4) and is made up of 32 bits, which means that the number of addresses is limited to 2 raised to 32 or a little more than 4 billion. As personal computers, mobile phones and even household electronics are connected to the internet and have become so common, the addresses are starting to run out. Therefore, IP version 6 has been developed which will replace IPv4.

At present, however, it is IPv4 that applies. 32 bits correspond to 4 bytes (8 bits are usually called one byte) and bytes can be written decimally. If you have checked your own IP address, you have probably received a number, for example, 213.175.34.43 where each group of digits can go between 0 and 255. On the local network, addresses such as 192.168.0.0 are often used.

Computer identity

Each device connected to a network has a unique IP address. It is these addresses that identify the devices and it is thanks to the IP numbers that the internet works at all.

To be able to communicate on the internet, a device must have a unique identity, otherwise, the information would not be found correctly.

When we enter a web address in the browser, it is translated into an IP number and the browser can then find the server where the page is located and load it.

Of course, your computer also has an IP address, but it is not always the same. If the computer is moved to another network, it also gets a new IP address.

Find your IP address externally

It can be difficult to see which IP address your own computer has on the internet. Therefore, there are web pages that show your current IP address. Keep in mind that the IP address may change if you connect your computer to a new network.

Find your IP address internally

If you want to see which IP address your computer has in your own network (it is not the same as the external one), do the following:

  • Open the Start menu.
  • Type CMD and press Enter to open the Command Prompt.
  • At the cursor, type ipconfig. Press Enter.
  • The text that appears shows, among other things, the computer’s local IP address (at IPv4 Address).

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