ExpressBasics: IP addresses and how to find yours

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IP addresses are all over the Internet. Every device you use at home, at the office, even the smartphone in your pocket has one. However, we may not know exactly what an IP address is. In today’s edition of ExpressBasics, we’ll understand what IP addresses are, how they work, and how you can find out yours.

What is an IP address?

As defined by Kaspersky, “IP addresses are the identifier that allows information to be sent between devices on a network: they contain location information and make devices accessible for communication. The Internet needs a way to differentiate between different computers, routers, and websites. IP addresses provide a way to do this and form an essential part of how the Internet works.”

In a nutshell, an IP address is like an Internet address that can be used to uniquely identify a particular device that is connected to a network, in this case, the entire web. The ‘IP’ stands for Internet Protocol, a set of rules that govern the format of data that is sent over the Internet.

IP addresses are indicated in the format of four decimal numbers, separated by periods. A typical IP address looks like this: 192.164.90.56.

Here, the first half of the address (192.164.50) represents what is known as the network part, while the second half (56) is what is known as the host part. While the former specifies the unique number assigned to your network, the latter is the part of the IP address that you assign to each host or device on your network.

Imagine that these combinations of dots and numbers are a unique postal code or a combination of latitude and longitude that can be used to point to your city or your exact location in Google maps respectively. If a website has your IP address (which it will unless you’re using a VPN), it also knows where you’re accessing the website from. This is how websites know your location, which is often used to redirect you to more region-specific pages or switch languages ​​accordingly.

Public vs. Private IP Addresses

A public IP address is one that can be accessed directly over the Internet. This address is assigned to your network router by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and is different from your private IP addresses. Every device you use on your Wi-Fi network at home has a private IP address. These are visible only to the router and remain hidden when connected to the Internet.

How to find out your IP address

Knowing your own IP address is essential if you want to do things like host a LAN in your home or office. There are many ways to find your IP address, the easiest of which is to simply search for “What’s my IP?” in Google. This will quickly show you your public IP address.

To find out your private IP address, you will need to follow a few more steps.

In Windows, you can go to your network properties under Settings/Network and Internet/Wi-Fi/(name of your Wi-Fi). You will find your IP towards the bottom of the page.

This is where you can find your IP address in Windows. (Express Photo)

On macOS, you can click the Apple logo, go to System Preferences/Network. Here, select the network you are already connected to and under ‘Status’, you will see the private IP address.

About Android, you can find out your IP address by going to Settings/About phone/Status/IP address. About iOSyou can navigate to Settings/ WiFi and select the information icon to the right of the connected network and find its IP address here.

IPv4 and IPv6 addresses

The IP addresses we deal with are typically IPv4 addresses. This is an older protocol that uses 32 binary bits and provides a total of 4.29 billion possible unique addresses. Concern about the number of IP addresses being “used up” led to the development of IPv6. IPv6 addresses are indicated by eight groups of numbers and typically look like this: 2601:7c1:100:ef69:b5ed:ed57:dbc0:2c1e.

Instead, IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, which theoretically allows for 2^128 combinations or 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses. Yeah, that’s enough to not run out for a long, long time.

However, as mentioned How ToGeek, the looming IPv4 address shortage “ended up being largely mitigated” because people started using private IP addresses behind their routers. This is why a full transition to IPv6 has not yet occurred.

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