IP Address stands for Internet Protocol address.
An IP address is a unique string of numbers that are separated by dots (e.g. 192.168.1.1). It is given to any device (phone, laptop, etc) that joins a network such as your wireless network at home or work.
What is an IP address in simple terms?
In simple terms, an IP address is a unique reference similar to your home address. Without an IP address or home address, others cannot send communication to you.
As soon as your device (i.e. Smartphone, Laptop, Smart speaker) joins a network it is given an IP address so that it can be identified and ‘data’ can be sent back to it when it requests it.
Data is any information your device requests such as a request to open/see Google home page or Facebook, etc.
When you open Instagram on your phone, your phone says to your broadband router “Hi, my IP address is 192.168.0.9 and I have opened the Instagram app. Can you please get me my Instagram home page – pronto!..pretty please”
This request goes through your broadband router to Instagram >> Instagram sends the info back to your broadband router >> your broadband router then says 192.168.0.9 here is the page/data you have requested. All this happens in a split second!
Your home/work network is full of several devices hence they all need to have a unique IP address so that their requests can be directed back to them when they are fulfilled.
There are different types of IP addresses. Private and Public.
What is a private IP address?
A private IP address is an address your broadband router assigns to your device. Each device within the same network is assigned a unique private IP address and this is how devices on the same internal network can communicate with each other (although in most cases we are more interested in communicating to the internet than with each other).
An example of communication to another device in your private network is when you open an app to control your smart speaker or any wireless devices you may have in your home – such as lights, CCTV cameras and other smart home devices.
Private IP addresses are not visible to devices outside of your home/work network. They cannot be seen by other devices on the Internet. How to find your private IP address.
When your device requests information from the internet, your broadband router keeps a note of your request and then goes out to get the information and then sends it back to the IP address that requested it.
Your broadband router has a public address so other devices on the internet such as Google know how to send information back to it. Your device’s Private IP address is hidden behind your broadband router.
Your home broadband router is usually the device that is responsible for assigning a unique IP address to any device that joins your home network. It maintains an IP address table so knows about all the devices and knows who wants what.
Private IP address Ranges:
192.168.0.0 – 192.168.255.255
172.16.0.0 – 172.31.255.255
10.0.0.0 – 10.255.255.255
What is a public IP address?
A public IP address is an IP address that can be accessed directly over the internet and is assigned to your broadband router by your internet service provider (ISP).
Your personal device has a private IP address that is not visible to outsiders.
When you connect to the Internet, the private IP from your personal device (i.e laptop, smartphone) is hidden behind the broadband router’s public IP address.
This process is called Network Address Translation (NAT). Your private IP is translated (hidden) behind your broadband router’s Public IP address and all devices on the internet see your IP as the Public IP address of your broadband router.
Google What is my IP address to see your public IP address. This is your broadband router’s public IP address.
All devices on your home network will be hidden behind your broadband router’s public IP address when you are on the internet. If your Google what is my IP address from a different device on your home network, you will find that they all have the same IP address.
This is because they are all accessing the internet through the same broadband router and it is proxying all the connections to the internet.
If you disconnect your phone from your wireless network you will see that the public IP address changes. This is because your phone will now be accessing the internet through your phone service provider network (e.g. Vodafone, T-Mobile, etc.).
- G0 to the command prompt by opening the Start (Windows) menu and typing cmd in the search bar.
If you don’t have a search bar, open the Start menu and click on “Run.”
- At the command prompt or in the Run box, enter ipconfig.
Credit: Robert McMillen on YouTube