What is an IP address?
An IP address is an abbreviation of the English Internet Protocol address. It is a unique numeric network layer number (identifier) used to address devices in networks built using the TCP/IP protocol (including the Internet). It contains information about the device's location and ensures its availability for communication.
In version 4, the IP address (IPv4) is a 32-bit number. A convenient form of writing an IP address (IPv4) is to write it in four decimal numbers with a value from 0 to 255, separated by dots, for example,
192.168.0.1. Thus, the full range of IP addressing is the addresses from
In version 6, an IP address (IPv6) has a 128-bit representation. Colons separate groups (for example
2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334). A large number of zero groups can be skipped using a double colon (
fe80::200:f8ff:fe21:67cf). Such a space can be the only one in the address.
IP addresses are not random. They are calculated mathematically and distributed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a division of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Types of IP addresses
There are different categories of IP addresses, and each category has different types.
Client IP addresses
Every user of Internet services has two types of IP addresses: private and public. The terms private and public refer to the network location: a private IP address is used inside the network, and a public IP address is used outside the network.
Private (local) IP addresses
Every device that connects to your local network has a private IP address. These can be computers, smartphones, tablets, printers, smart TVs, and any other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. With the development of the Internet of Things, the number of private IP addresses on the local network is also growing. The router must identify each of these devices, and many devices must also identify each other. Therefore, the router generates private IP addresses, which are unique identifiers for each device and allow them to be distinguished in the network.
Public (external) IP addresses
A public IP address is a primary address associated with the entire Internet network. Each connected device has its own IP address, but they are also included in the main network IP address. As described above, the public IP address is assigned to the client router by the ISP. Typically, ISPs have a large pool of IP addresses that they assign to customers. The public IP address is the address that devices outside the Internet network will use to recognize that client network.
Public IP addresses
There are two types of public IP addresses: dynamic and static.
Dynamic IP addresses
Dynamic IP addresses change automatically and periodically. Internet service providers have a large pool of IP addresses and automatically assign them to their customers. Periodically, they change the assigned IP addresses and return the old IP addresses back to the pool for use by other customers. The rationale for this approach is to save the provider money. Automating the regular change of IP addresses allows them to avoid having to take any action to restore a customer's IP address, for example if they move. There are also security benefits, as changing the IP address makes it harder for attackers to hack into the network interface.
Static IP addresses
Unlike dynamic IP addresses, static IP addresses remain unchanged. Once a network assigns an IP address, it remains unchanged. Most individuals and organizations don't need static IP addresses, but for organizations that plan to host their own servers, having a static IP address is essential. This is because a static IP address ensures that the websites and email addresses associated with it will have permanent IP addresses. This is very important if you want other devices to be able to find them on the Internet.
Can multiple devices have the same IP address?
This is a tricky question - the answer is yes and no. More than one device can share a public (external) IP address, but each device will have its own private (local) IP address. For example, your ISP sets up your home with a single external IP address. Since your router actually connects to the internet, the IP address is assigned to the router. Your router then assigns a local IP address to each device connected to the internet at the same time. An external IP address is shared access to the outside world. Your private IP address is not visible outside of your local home network.
How do I find out my IP address?
The easiest way to find out the public IP address of your router is to open this page. The address, country, and city will be shown at the top of the page.
Other websites will display the same information: they see the public IP address because the router makes a request when you visit the site and therefore discloses the information. Certain sets of addresses are tied to providers with a clearly defined location. This way, websites can see from which countries and cities their users are accessing them.
As a rule, this method can only reveal the approximate location of the provider, not the actual location of the device. When using this method, you also need to log out of the VPN. To find out the actual location of a device using a public IP address, you usually need to provide the ISP with a search warrant.
Finding out a private IP address depends on the platform:
- Use the command prompt.
- In the Windows search bar, type
- In the window that appears, type
ipconfigto display the IP address information.
- Go to System Preferences.
- Select the network and the required information will be displayed.
To find your IP address on Linux, you can use one of the three commands
- To display IP addresses using the hostname command, use the -I option.
$ hostname -I
ifconfigcommand can also be used to display the IP addresses used by the system. By default,
ifconfigwill display information about all network interfaces that are currently running, including the loopback interface (look for the line 'inet' in the output).
- Do the same with the
ipcommand. To view the IP addresses, use
(look for the line 'inet' in the results).
$ ip addr show
To find your IP address in ChromeOS, follow the steps below:
- Select "Launcher".
- Enter "Settings" > click the "Settings" cog that appears.
- In the "Network" section, you'll see the active network you're connected to. Click on it.
- In the "Known networks" section, click on the active network again.
- The settings related to your network will appear, including your "IP address" (this is your private IP address).
- Go to options.
- Select Wi-Fi and click the "i" icon in the circle next to the network name. The IP address will appear under the DHCP tab.
- Go to system settings.
- In the "Settings" section, go to "Wi-Fi".
- Click on the network you are connected to.
- Your private IP address will be shown below.
To check the IP addresses of other devices on the network, go to your router. The way you access your router depends on its brand and software. Generally, to access it, you need to be able to enter the IP address of the router's gateway in a web browser while on the same network. From there, you should go to "Connected Devices," where you will see a list of all devices currently or recently connected to the network, including their IP addresses.
Will my IP address change if I move?
Yes. If you move to a different house, your IP address will be different. However, if you want to keep your old IP address, you need to ask your internet provider to assign you a static IP address (provided you are connected to the same provider).
How do I change my IP address?
Changing your public IP address can be useful if your address has been banned from an online resource. Here are two ways you can try to change your IP address:
- Reboot your router: most client networks are assigned dynamic IP addresses by ISPs. Thus, turning the router on and off will be an easy solution. However, this solution does not always work because some servers try to remember devices that have connected to them before and may assign you the same IP address.
- Request a new static IP address from your internet provider. But this service will most likely be paid for.