Most people these days know that their computer, cell phone and other connected devices are looking to the internet for much of their functionality, but what about all that IP jargon? What is an IP address? How does it work and why does it matter? Today we’ll break down IP addressing and explain why it is so important. Whether you are a tech pro or total novice, understanding IP addresses and how to find yours matters when it comes to safely and securely leveraging the internet. So let’s get started to understand why IP addresses are important and learn how to find yours.

Quick Recap

An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a unique numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network. An IP address identifies the location of the device and allows it to communicate with other devices on the internet.

What is an IP Address?

An IP address, short for Internet Protocol address, is a unique numerical identifier assigned to each device connected to the internet. These IP addresses are vital in allowing devices on different networks to communicate and route data appropriately. IPs are associated with an array of other information specific to the user, including geographical location.

The discussion over privacy and security surrounding the use of an IP address has become more important with the growth of the internet. On one hand, websites can easily track your IP and it can be used to identify browsing behaviour. On the other hand, an IP address is often required for access to certain services or networks, meaning an organisation would not be able to grant you access without having some information related to your IP address.

It’s worth noting that depending on where and how you connect, your IP address may change or it may stay the same. For instance, a mobile device will generally have a different IP address than if it was connected to a traditional computer network. Similarly, someone that connects via their home Wi-Fi network will always have the same IP (generally).

In summary, an IP address is used as an identifier for devices connected to a publicly accessible network like the internet as well as for access control purposes. It is important for networks to be able to trace back a connexion request in order for data packets to get routed correctly, but this has brought up various privacy debates with regard to technically making users traceable on the web.

Now let’s take a look at different types of IP addresses and how they work.

Different Types of IP Addresses

When it comes to types of IP addresses, the most common are IPv4 and IPv6. However, there are also other forms that exist such as an APIPA (Automatic Private Internet Protocol Addressing) address.

IPv4 is the most widely used type of IP address. It is a numerical label consisting of 32 binary bits assigned to each device or node connected to the internet for communication. It consists of four eight-digit numbers separated by periods. For example, Since its introduction in 1978, this form of addressing has enabled devices to communicate and exchange information while maintaining network security across the web.

IPv6 was introduced in 2014 as an upgrade to IPv4 due to the limited number of addresses available with IPv4, estimated to last until 2020-2021. This new version consists of 128 binary bits and replaces the earlier 32 bit structure with a hexadecimal structure separated by colons (e.g., 2001:0db8:0000:0082:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334). Some users may prefer this more extended form since it provides nearly limitless addresses around the world, allowing for significantly more traffic on the web with higher speeds and better security than before possible through IPv4 addressing.

However, some argue that IPv6’s use should be limited at present, as not all modems and routers support it yet and would need updates or additional equipment for compatibility. Until this issue is resolved for global online users migrating from IPv4 to 6, such a transition has not been fully possible yet—despite being highly desired by many large organisations such as ISPs in order to keep up with increasing demand on the web worldwide without depleting precious resources like we saw with IPv4 before its successor’s introduction.

In addition, there is also an APIPA address which works as a back-up when the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) cannot provide an IP address automatically to a device and prevent network connexion problems—a big plus when working on both local networks or on public networks outside business settings like hotels or airports where temporary access may be needed while connected away from home base computers/networks.

Therefore, there are different types of IP addresses available today offering distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on user preferences and needs—migration being one scenario where access through IPv6 could be advantageous in certain cases over other form(s). As we explore more about IP addresses in further detail now, the next section focuses specifically on IPv4 technology and how it influences online communication today.


An IP address consists of two components, the Network ID (also known as the prefix) and the Host ID (also known as the suffix). The most widely used type of IP address is IPv4. IPv4 stands for Internet Protocol version 4 and it is a 32-bit integer structure made up of four numeric fields separated by dots, ranging from to Each value in the dotted quad denotes an 8-bit segment of the IP address and the combination of the numbers in each field represent network addressing information.

IPv4 has been used for decades but it is now considered to be unsustainable due to its limited number of available addresses; only 4,294,967,296 unique addresses can be created with IPv4 compared to over 340 trillion, trillion with IPv6, making it impossible to continue using IPv4 to meet demands generated by cloud computing and mobile devices. Despite this limitation, many argue that there are opportune moments for businesses and consumers wanting to take advantage of IPv4 addresses since they may still be sold or leased at reasonable prices today through secondary markets. This could provide short-term gain in terms of cost savings and overall performance when weighed against IPv6’s complex transition process and potential long-term losses caused by its inherent fragility with respect to business continuity planning and security protocols.

Leaving aside cost issues for a moment, it’s important for organisations and individuals to understand that all current internet applications now use some element of IPv6 technology when needed and depending on one’s access point, this will typically be handled intelligently across both types of protocol automatically. That said, while support exists for earlier versions such as IPv4, if taken on face value alone then migrating to end-to-end IPv6 throughout could simplify matters somewhat even though inevitable costs would likely be incurred in any case during such a transition process.

To summarise, while there is understandable debate over which protocol might be more beneficial to adopt over time, the reality is that anyone connected online will inevitably have multiple usable IP addresses until a complete switchover from IPv4 happens sometime in the future. With this in mind, the next section will discuss more about another major form of internet addressing scheme – “IPv6”.

  • Every device that connects to the internet has a unique IP (Internet Protocol) address.
  • IPv4 is the fourth version of Internet Protocol, and its address space consists of 4.3 billion addresses.
  • IPv6 was released in 2004 as a new version of Internet protocol, and it provides approximately 340 trillion trillion trillion (340 sextillion) unique addresses.


IPv6 addresses are the replacement for the older IPv4 addresses. With the growth of the internet and IP-based networks, it became evident that IPv4 would eventually run out of address space. To combat this issue, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) developed IPv6, which uses 128-bit addresses instead of the traditional 32-bits used by IPv4.

This increased address size is one significant benefit of switching from IPv4 to IPv6. Because it is significantly larger, it opens up a much wider address space – so many more devices can be connected to the internet without running out of unique IP addresses.

The other more profound benefit has to do with routing traffic over networks and through cloud applications. Before IPv6, most companies had to use Network Address Translation (NAT) to send incoming traffic where it needed to go on their network. This was a rather complicated process and added latency, or delays, in responses that could range from milliseconds to minutes or longer.

With IPv6, however, because each address is as unique as a person’s fingerprint, companies no longer have to rely on NAT. With simpler address extraction techniques like Subnetting and hierarchical addressing, sending data becomes much faster and easier within a company’s own networks as well as across multiple networks in different geographic locations.

The debate around using IPv6 has been going on for years now, with the two sides being proponents of staying with traditional IPv4 versus advocates for transitioning to the newer protocol. Proponents of sticking with IPv4 argue that the technology is more stable and secure; whereas those pushing for an evolution argue that without migrating to a new system we will eventually face exhaustion of IP addresses and fewer options for making routing secure and more efficient.

Leading into the next section about: “Who Assigns IP Addresses?”, it’s important to understand how IPs are created, managed, and assigned throughout different networks in order to ensure your systems have access to reliable connexions at all times.

Top Summary Points

IPv6 addresses are 128-bit addresses, replacing the older 32-bit IPv4 addresses to combat the issue of running out of IP address space. The benefit is an increased capacity for devices to be connected to the internet and faster routing traffic. There has been a debate between proponents of sticking with IPv4 versus an evolution to IPv6. Understanding how IPs are created, managed, and assigned is important to ensure reliable connexions.

Who Assigns IP Addresses?

IP addresses are assigned to devices connected to a network. They serve as a unique identifier to help systems communicate with each other over the internet. The governing body that assigns IP addresses is called the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). This agency bases its assignment of IP addresses on the principles of regional Internet registries and reserves certain address ranges for particular purposes.

In the U.S., the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is responsible for allocating, managing, and coordinating all IPv4 and IPv6 address spaces. ARIN allocates blocks of available addresses from IANA and assigns them to ISPs or organisations that need them for their services. Each ISP also has its own internal rules and policies when assigning individual IP addresses within their organisation.

The debate over who should be in charge of assigning IP addresses is ongoing. Proponents argue that this should remain in the hands of private agencies since they have more experience in managing networks; while others argue that it should become more of a public responsibility with strict standards and regulations. Either way, IP address assignment processes are likely to remain complex, as they must take into account things such as geographic locations and regulations related to local privacy laws.

No matter how they’re allocated, IP addresses are vital to authorised communications over the internet. With that being said, let’s move onto what those addresses enable.

What Does an IP Address Enable?

IP addresses are used to enable communication between devices connected to the Internet. By providing a unique identifier for each device, IP addresses allow devices to communicate with one another, receive data from other sources, and facilitate the route of data between different origins and destinations on the World Wide Web. In fact, without IP addresses, the flow of information across networks would be several orders of magnitude more complicated—if not entirely impossible.

An IP address can be thought of as a virtual address or “location” that is assigned to a network-connected device. It’s used to identify the device on a given network and it enables this event: each digital packet sent over the Internet contains both a destination and origin address. A destination address is simply where the packet needs to go, and if it’s routed correctly an origin address will tell you where it came from.

Another function of IP addresses is security. For example, when attempting to access a protected network resource most institutions will have an authentication portal in place—which makes sure that only authorised users can connect to their network. By using your personal IP address, these platforms are able to recognise whether you have authorisation or not.

At first glance it may seem like the use of IP addresses compromises one’s privacy. However, much like with most technology, there are both pros and cons when it comes down to security and privacy implications. On one hand having a static IP address known to third parties makes you vulnerable to cyber attacks; however, at the same time by masking your real IP address you limit your ability to easily access certain online materials that are geo-restricted as well as services such as online banking.

This brings us to our next section—Tracking Your IP Address—where we’ll discuss ways in which you can start understanding how your own personal IP address works and how you can be in charge of keeping yourself better safe online.

Tracking Your IP Address

When it comes to IP addresses, there seems to be a bit of a divide on the discussion of tracking people’s locations. Some believe it should be avoided due to privacy implications, while others believe it is necessary for certain activities and services. Now let’s explore both sides of the argument.

Proponents of tracking IP-based information argue that it enables many businesses and other networks to operate securely. These services use the IP address information to carry out tasks such as blocking malicious attacks, recognising erratic behaviour and safeguarding important data. According to the argument, this helps protect users from potential cyber threats and fraud. What’s more, it can prevent chaos on websites from happening due to DOS attacks.

On the other hand, opponents of tracking IP-based information are deeply concerned about online security and privacy. IP address data can reveal a great deal of personal information, including where and when someone logs in. This means that if someone’s IP address is uncovered by an inaccurate third-party service, their private details could potentially become exposed if stored in an unencrypted form. Additionally, those who oppose this kind of monitoring say that using trackers can be a breach of trust between users and web providers – something which could damage an organization’s reputation and trustworthiness over time.

Regardless of whichever side you take, tracking an IP address involves collecting minute details, so it definitely must be done with caution. With this debate in mind, let’s now take a look at how one might go about finding their own IP address in the next section.

Finding Your IP Address

Discovering your IP address can be very simple; all you need is an internet-ready device and access to the correct network. To find it, you’ll need to go into your internet settings and the menus for your device or operating system. This process varies slightly based on what type of device you are using, but here are some general steps:


1. Open up your Control Panel

2. Click on “Network and Internet”

3. Select “Network and Sharing Center”

4. Click “Change Adapter Settings”

5. Right click on the connexion you’re using (wi-fi or ethernet)

6. Choose “Status” > “Details”

7. Look for “IPv4 Address” to find the number listed next to it

Mobile Devices:

1.Open the Settings app and select Wi-Fi

2.Tap the name of your current network

3.Your IP address should be listed at the bottom of this window

The debate surrounding finding one’s IP address centres around data privacy & transparency. On the one hand, some people argue that they should be allowed privacy and shouldn’t have to disclose their IP address unnecessarily, while other people feel that keeping track of an IP address is necessary in order to maintain an effective degree of cybersecurity. Ultimately, there’s no single answer as to whether or not it’s wise to know one’s IP address; the decision comes down to personal preference and comfort level with potentially exposing part of one’s identity online.

Now that we’ve discussed how to find your IP address, let’s move onto exploring the risks associated with IP address tracking in our next section…

Risks of IP Address Tracking

When it comes to IP addresses, tracking can be a concern for many. It is possible for someone with malicious intent to use an IP address to identify you. Companies, governments and other organisations can find out who is visiting their websites by tracing your IP address and if it is exposed, there are risks associated with this type of tracking.

On the one hand, privacy advocates have raised concerns that IP address tracking could be used to infringe on a person’s right to privacy. This worry is amplified as more websites and online services collect information about users’ online activities, creating digital profiles that can reveal sensitive personal details. Additionally, organisations can deploy tracking codes in order to gather data about website visitors without their knowledge or consent.

However, there are potential positive benefits of IP address tracking as well. For example, it enables businesses and governments to improve security by identifying potentially malicious activity originating from particular IP addresses and also enables organisations to better understand their visitors in order to provide them with a more tailored experience. It can also help organisations track down hackers and cyber criminals who may be using someone else’s IP address in order to carry out their activities anonymously.

Despite these potential advantages, the risks associated with exposing your own IP address still outweigh the benefits in most cases. For this reason, it is important to take steps to make your IP address anonymous if you don’t want it to be tracked. In the following section, we will discuss how you can do just that – make your IP address anonymous in order to protect yourself from potential risks posed by IP address tracking.

How To Make Your IP Address Anonymous

An IP address can give away a lot about you, including your geographical location and the type of device you are using. For those reasons, there are times when you may want to make your IP address anonymous. There are two primary ways to do this: using a virtual private network (VPN) or a proxy server.


A VPN allows users to establish an encrypted connexion with a secure server based in another country. When connected, the server hides its users’ real IP addresses and replaces them with a new one which may be located in another part of the world – meaning that anyone trying to trace their activity will think they are somewhere else. Many VPNs also offer additional security measures such as DNS leak protection and kill switches which make it very difficult for third parties to track your online activity.

Pros: VPNs provide strong encryption methods and multiple layers of security, ensuring that your activities remain genuinely anonymous. In many cases, they also allow you to bypass geo-blocking restrictions from any website or service.

Cons: The strongest VPN services come at a cost which can be expensive for some users. Furthermore, if the VPN provider is not reputable, your data may still be vulnerable to attack from hackers or government surveillance agencies.

Proxy Servers

A proxy server is essentially a remote gateway or computer which masks its users’ IP addresses by routing traffic through another address located in a different country. This means that onlookers can only see the IP address of the proxy server itself, rather than your own IP address which is hidden behind it.

Pros: Unlike VPNs, many proxy servers are available free of charge and often require no prior setup or configuration on behalf of the user. Therefore they tend to be much more user-friendly than VPN solutions and are ideal for casual users who just need occasional anonymity.

Cons: Proxy servers offer much lower levels of encryption compared to VPNs, meaning your data may still be exposed even when the connexion appears secure. Furthermore, companies such as Netflix have implemented bans on proxies due to copyright infringement issues, so streaming services may be unavailable to you if you decide to use them.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

What are some common uses of IP addresses?

IP addresses are used for a variety of reasons and here are just a few common ones:

1. Network Identification – Network devices such as servers, computers, routers, modems and printers each have their own IP address assigned to them. This allows them to be identified and communicate with other devices on the network.

2. Access Control – IP addresses can also be used to restrict or grant access to certain services or websites on the internet. For example parents can use IP restrictions to limit how much time their children spend online or what websites they are allowed to visit.

3. Location Tracking – IP addresses also provide an estimated geographical location of the user, which can be used by businesses and organisations for internal mapping or marketing research.

4. Troubleshooting – Finally IP addresses are also useful for troubleshooting network problems or tracking down malicious actors on the web. Knowing where data is coming from makes it easier to identify potential security threats and analyse network performance issues.

How can I find my IP address?

Finding your IP address is quite simple. You can use the “ipconfig” command in Windows or the “ifconfig” command in Linux to quickly retrieve it from the command line. Both of these commands will provide a list of network information, and the IP address should be listed alongside this information.

Alternatively, if you are using a web browser, you can go to a website such as or to find your IP address; these websites simply display your current IP address when you visit them. Additionally, you can check with your Internet service provider (ISP) to see what your IP address is; they will be able to provide you with this information.

In conclusion, there are numerous ways to easily look up your IP address. Doing so is important because knowing an individual’s IP address can help identity their location and allow them access to certain websites and services on the internet.

What are the benefits of using an IP address?

The benefits of using an IP address are numerous, ranging from providing secure remote access to devices, to helping with website discovery, to providing networks with routing information.

Firstly, IP addresses provide a secure means of remote access to devices and networks on the Internet. By assigning a unique IP address to a device, it can be easily identified amongst millions of other connected devices, allowing for secure and reliable communication between two endpoints.

Secondly, IP addresses are necessary for the proper functioning of the Domain Name System (DNS). This system translates easy-to-remember domain names such as “” into their corresponding numeric IP addresses, which allows websites and other online resources to be found on the Internet. Furthermore, since IP addresses remain relatively static over time, they can also be used in web hosting servers and email servers as contact points for sharing content with those who need it.

Finally, IP addresses can help routers efficiently transfer data across different networks. By assigning a unique address to each device on a network, routers can accurately identify where packets should go and how they should get there. In addition, firewalls use IP addresses to determine which types of incoming traffic are allowed or blocked.

In conclusion, IP addresses are an essential part of our digital infrastructure that provides us with secure access to devices and networks on the Internet, enables efficient routing between different networks, and helps us find web resources via DNS resolution.

What is the difference between an IPv4 and IPv6 IP address?

An IP address is an identifier for a computer or device on a network. It works like a physical address, allowing other devices to communicate with it over the Internet. There are two main types of IP addresses; IPv4 and IPv6.

IPv4 addresses consist of four numbers between 0 and 255 (separated by dots), while IPv6 addresses are made up of 8 hexadecimal blocks with 4 characters each (separated by colons). The primary difference between them is that while IPv4 allows for approximately 4 billion unique addresses, IPv6 allows for over 340 undecillion. This means that although IPv4 can still support most Internet users, now more than ever, IPv6 is required to maintain all the current browsing activity as well as accommodate the growth of new devices coming online.

Moreover, whereas most IPV4 address are static and don’t change unless a device is switched off and back on again, almost all modern operating systems can now handle dynamic IPV6 addresses that can be refreshed anywhere from once an hour to every few days. This means that even if your device changes its IP address, you won’t experience any interruptions in service when connected.

In conclusion, there are several major differences between IPv4 and IPv6 IP addresses. While both are required for successful communication over the Internet, IPv6 has been created to accommodate for the growing number of web-enabled devices coming online and offers dynamic address refreshing capabilities.

What are the security risks associated with using an IP address?

Using an IP address can present a range of security risks, depending on the individual user’s level of protection. When someone knows your IP address, they are able to track and monitor your online activity, making you vulnerable to cyber crimes such as identity theft, data fraud, and hacking. Additionally, if malicious actors know your IP, they can use it to find out more personal information about you, such as your physical location and contact details. This puts you at risk of physical threats and harassment.

To protect yourself from these risks, it is important to ensure that any devices connected to the internet have good security measures in place. Ensure all devices have up-to-date anti-virus software installed and don’t access any web pages or networks that you feel could be unsafe or malicious. Use a virtual private network (VPN) to hide your IP address and encrypt your data while browsing online. Finally, if applicable, provide a unique IP address for each device connected to the internet—this way malicious actors won’t be able to track multiple devices with one IP address.

Last Updated on April 15, 2024

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