IP Addresses

Do you know yours and what it does?

I2014-10-03O-Nat was an almost laughable moment when we—a software company—were trying to explain to an outside technology-marketing consultant why she couldn’t inquiry her IP address to install a simple security feature. It made us realize: if the people we work with don’t fully understand IP addresses, there are
probably a lot of our clients who work on computers all day and still don’t quite understand them either!

What is an IP address?

The IP or Internet Protocol address is a unique numeric label assigned to your computer or smart machine, which allows it to communicate with other
devices on the Internet; sort of a telephone number for your computer. It’s the only way to identify you and reach you online.

How long is an IP address?

Ordinarily, an IPv4 address is used. This is the original version of the IP address that the Internet and most routers are configured for, made up of 32-bit addresses with over 4 billion unique combinations. Because of growing Internet use, the fear of IP address exhaustion is real, and new versions of the addresses called IPv6 are being developed which is a 128-bit address.

Under the IPv4 protocol, the address is four numbers, separated by periods, with each number being a number between zero and 255.

What is a private IP address?

Private IP addresses, often used by smaller networks within a company, allow information to be passed between computers within a company, without being routed through the Internet. Basically, this allows private communication among computers within a network. So, if a public IP address is like a telephone party line where anyone can call in, a private IP address is like a private conference call where an invitation is required to chat.

How can I tell if I am viewing a private or public IP address?

IP ranges for private addresses start with a 10, 172 or 192 and fall between these ranges: 10.0.0.0 – 10.255.255.255, 172.16.0.0 – 172.31.255.255, 192
168.0.0 – 192.168.255.255.

How do I find my computer’s IP address?

To find your computer’s IP address, click on one of the following links depending on your software version: Windows 7 and Vista, Windows 10 or by going to http://www.whatsmyip.org/.

Who determines my computer’s IP address?

For most computer users, the IP address is provided by your Internet Service Provider (i.e. Cox Communications, Century Link, AT&T).

Does my IP address ever change?

Even though your IP address is unique to your computer, and is required to access the Internet, it does not have to be a permanent or static address. Many Internet Service Providers “lease” an IP address to the user and change it frequently. This isn’t always the case, but depending on your service provider, it may change every time you go online.

One more note: if you are a Wi-Fi user, your IP address may switch every time you go online depending on the network you are accessing. That’s because the address does not belong to your computer but rather to that network.

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