How to discover the ip address of a computer

ipaddress

What Is an IP Address?

IP address stands for internet protocol address; it is an identifying number that is associated with a specific computer or computer network. When connected to the internet, the IP address allows the computers to send and receive information.

The IP address is a fascinating product of modern computer technology designed to allow one connected computer (or “smart” device) to communicate with another device over the Internet.

IP addresses allow the location of literally billions of digital devices that are connected to the Internet to be pinpointed and differentiated from other devices.

There are two types of IP addresses: public (or external) IP addresses and local (or internal) IP addresses. The public address is provided by your internet service provider (ISP) and is how the internet recognizes your network. Each device on your local network, including your computer, has a unique local IP address that is usually assigned by the router on your internal network.

You may need a local IP address to do things like setting up printers or solving technical problems on your network. If your problem isn’t on your own network — if the trouble is out on the internet — knowing how to find your public IP address is an important troubleshooting step. For example, you may need to tell a tech support person your public IP address if you lose your internet connection or if you want to give someone permission to administer your network remotely.

(It’s worth knowing, though it’s not necessary to find your IP addresses, that the entire internet is based on a series of standards called TCP/IP. If you’re curious, this article explains .)

Even if you think you know your public IP address, you should check anyway because it may have changed. In some cases, the IP address you’re assigned by your ISP is “static;” – that is, it never changes. But your ISP usually has the right to change your public IP address for its own business reasons — what’s called a “dynamic” IP address. The difference between  is at the root of a lot of connectivity problems.

As you dig into finding your IP address, you may see two different versions, expressed as IPv4 and IPv6. The computer industry is slowly moving from IPv4 to IPv6, but for most purposes, you only need to care about IPv4. If you want to learn more, you can read about , and which is better.

How to find your public IP address

There are several simple ways to identify your public IP address. The easiest way to find your IP address is by using a free online tool such as HMA’S IP CHECKER The HMA tool quickly tells you your IP address, your location, your ISP — and even the color of your pants (although this feature isn’t always accurate).

Another way to find your public IP address is to use Google search. Simply type “what is my IP address,” and the search engine will tell you. It won’t reveal your ISP or location – and although Google may already know what pants you’re wearing, it won’t say so.

Remember: all these tools tell you your public IP address — the one the internet uses to find your network — not the local IP address behind your router.

Is my IP address secure?

No. Your public IP address is public. Just as there are tools that let you find your public IP address, there are tools that let other people find your public IP address, too. That might alarm you, and rightly so.

Everything you do online is tagged with your IP address: your emails, your online shopping activity, your browsing history. Someone who knows your IP address can identify your location, just as you can. This is how online advertisers can feed you ads based on where you’re browsing from.

It’s hard to associate a public IP address with a particular person and, in the vast majority of cases, it’s not worth the effort. But a motivated stalker or criminal might make that effort; so may law enforcement.

The best way to disassociate your public IP address from your location is to use a VPN. A VPN  routes your internet traffic through another network with a different IP address. That IP address may be assigned to some other place in the world and can’t be traced back to where you really are, effectively masking you

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