D I V E R S I T Y

What is the IP address and everything you need to know about yours

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

You have certainly heard of IP addresses many times and in many contexts that have to do with the Internet, but what do you know about them? Find out what your IP address is and how important it is.

IP stands for Internet Protocol. This protocol has the function of establishing communications between all the devices that try to interact with each other on the internet. In other words, we could compare it to a postal service.

The IP address is like the ‘number plate’ of a car or a person’s ID number. It is a code that will identify each user who is surfing on any network, and it is the Internet’s way of finding out who is who, whether it be a domain or a computer. A device will not be able to establish communications with anyone if it does not have one of these addresses.

The purpose of an IP address is to uniquely identify and locate each device on an internal or external network. It is a number that identifies an interface, which can be either a computer, a smartphone or any other electronic device that connects to the Internet.

The IP address normally consists of four numerical blocks of up to three digits, called bytes, which are separated by dots. The values of each block can vary between 0 and 255 and can be one, two or three digits. For example, an IP can be: 9.9.9.9

How is an IP address generated?

IP addresses are currently available with Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), which is capable of creating some 43 billion different addresses. However, as more and more devices require a differentiated IP address, the capacity of IPv4 has become insufficient and for this reason IPv6 already exists.

With the IPv6 protocol, up to 340 sextillion IP addresses can be generated, which is an almost inexhaustible source of alternatives. In this version there would not only be numbers, as the letters ‘a’ to ‘f’ can appear.

There are basically two types of IP addresses: public IPs and private IPs. A public IP address can never be duplicated, but with private IPs this is not the case and there is a simple explanation for this.

In each home, the router assigns private IP addresses to each device, which will normally be dynamic (they vary, they are not always the same, as is the case with static ones) and will have an expiry date, either 24 hours or until the moment the device is switched off. These IP addresses are different from each other in the same house, but may coincide with private IP addresses assigned in other houses.

What is a public IP address and a private IP address?

A tablet, the smartphones of each member of the family, the desktop computer, the printer, the laptop… How many devices are connected to your home internet network? Whether you work from home or just use your wifi network for leisure time, each device is connected to the internet independently. They have private IP addresses within a local network.

The public IP address is different. It is the address of the web pages in their domains and the services offered by the internet. It is also the identifying code of your network or your router from the outside.

How do I know what my IP is?

Based on the above classification, there are two routes so that you can find out your IP address without complications.

The simplest process is to know the public IP, since it will be enough to enter specific pages that already reveal it, such as See my IP, My IP or What is my IP. They will automatically show you on the screen what your public IP is.

The way to see the private IP address depends on the device. For example, on a Mac you can see it from the initial menu under ‘System Preferences > Network’. On a Windows 10 computer, the path to follow is

Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change Adapter Settings‘. Select the Internet connection and right-click on it to select the ‘Status’ option. In the window that appears, under the ‘Details’ option, the line ‘IPv4 address’ will appear. This is the private IP address of your computer.

As far as the data you provide about yourself, an IP address is a source of ‘personal data’ that allows internet providers to find out where users are connecting from, their data traffic, or to find out which internet provider they are using.