What is an IP address?
An Internet Protocol address is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two main functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing.
Dynamic IP vs. Static IP
Your router most likely assigns dynamic IP addresses by default. Routers do this because having a dynamic IP address network requires no configuration on your part. You can simply plug in your computer and the network will work. When IP addresses are assigned dynamically, it is the router’s job to assign them. Every time a computer reboots it asks the router for an IP address. The router then hands the computer an IP address that has not already been handed out to another computer. When you set your computer to a static IP address, the router doesn’t know that a computer is already using that IP address. That same IP address could be handed out to another computer later on. This will prevent both computers from connecting to the Internet. It’s important to assign an IP address that will not be handed out to a different computer by the dynamic IP address server. The dynamic IP address server is generally referred to as the DHCP server.
An IP address, short for Internet Protocol address, is an identifying number for network hardware connected to a network.
What Does an IP Address Look Like?
Most IP addresses look like this:
Remember that each block of an IP address is a value between zero and 255.
IP Versions (IPv4 vs IPv6)
There are two versions of IP: internet protocol version 4 (IPv4) and internet protocol version 6 (IPv6). The former is the older version, while IPv6 is the upgraded IP version.
- IPv4: It’s able to provide over 4 billion unique IP addresses (232). While this is a large number of addresses, it’s not enough for the modern world with all the different devices used on the internet.
- IPv6: IPv6 supports 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses (2128).
Checking your IP address
Checking your IP address is easy to do.
- If you use Windows — Run a search on your computer for CMD. Once the command box is open, type “ipconfig” and hit enter.
- If you use a Mac — Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal. Once you’re in Terminal, type “ipconfig” and hit enter.
If you’re at home, your IP should start with something 192.168. A typical example would be 192.168.0.1.
IP addresses, like a phone number or address, contain bits of information about your location.
Your IP address can tell people a lot about you. It can reveal your city, ZIP Code, and area code if someone knows where to look. However, an IP address doesn’t always show the correct information.
Using a VPN can help protect your identity from people trying to look up your information by masking your IP address. If you use torrents to download movies and music, a VPN can help hide who you are from your ISP.