A Complete Guide to IP Addresses

A Complete Guide to IP Addresses

We all know that The World Wide Web is an enormous place. There was a report that was issued by IHS Markit guesses that there are over 8 billion devices linked to the Internet. That doesn’t just comprise computers, but also smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, and just about anything else that has a Wi-Fi chip or Ethernet port. And in the midpoint of all this, we have one term – IP Address. Short for “Internet Protocol address,” an IP is a couple of digits given to PC network interfaces so that they can send and receive data from other devices. Alright, so we know what IP addresses are for, but what exactly are there? Let me shed some light on the matter. Here’s everything you need to know about IP addresses.

A Complete Guide to IP Addresses
A Complete Guide to IP Addresses

Reading Between the Digits – IP Address Explained

Before you move forward to know what an IP address is, you have to learn about how devices talk to each other on the internet. All internet-connected devices speak a precise ‘language’ recognized as TCP/IP or transmission control protocol/internet protocol.

This arrangement of communication rules defines how every device on the Internet must conduct itself, how it should introduce itself, and in what way it should send inquiries and info. 

All devices that can ‘speak’ TCP/IP can interconnect with any other machine that sticks to the same stock.

It doesn’t matter what the real device is either. It could be a PC, a toaster, or a flying drone. If they speak the right Internet language, they’ll get sideways in the best way possible.

TCP/IP permits us to break our data into small little pieces known as packets. These packets are sacked into the network and directed to their destination.

It doesn’t matter in what sequence they arrive in, the device at the other end can utilize the rules in the protocol to stitch it all back together.

In case any of the packets didn’t make it for some reason, it knows which ones to ask for again. The source will then send it back via automatic processing. This might look like a lot of work, but it occurs so quickly that, to our human insights, it’s prompt

In reality, it so fast these days that we all can stream HD TV shows and can, in real-time, talk to people via several platforms. TCP/IP handles the job of steering those packets via the considerable maze that is the Internet. But to do that, it requires knowing precisely where the two points of communication are on the network. That’s exactly where an IP address comes into play.

Public VS Private IP Address

When considering IP Addresses, you should consider that you’re going to run into two different terms – Public and Private IP addresses. These are two very different types of addresses that serve different purposes. Let’s take a look as I’ll be explaining everything about them below.

  • Public IP Address

It is allocated to a computing device to permit direct access over the Internet. It includes a web server, email server, and any server device that is directly reachable from the Internet. A public IP address is generally exclusive, and can only be given to a distinctive device.

  • Private IP Address

It is to be paid by InterNIC to let organizations make their private network. There are three IP blocks (1 class A, 1 class B, and 1 class C) reticent for individual usage. The PCs, smartphones, and tablets sitting behind your home, and the personal computers within organizations are usually given private IP addresses

The time when a PC is allotted a private IP address, the local devices see this PC through its private IP address. However, the devices outside of your local network are unable to communicate directly through the private IP address but use your router’s public IP address to communicate. 

Types of IP Addresses

Based on the operations and functioning, IP Addresses have five kinds. 

  • Unicast IP Addresses 

It is an address of a distinct interface. The IP addresses of this kind are utilized for one-to-one communication. These are being used to direct packets to a certain host. 

  • Multicast IP Addresses

These are utilized for one-to-many communication. Multicast messages are directed to IP multicast group addresses. During the process, routers send copies of the packet out to all interfaces that have hosts subscribed to that group address. 

  • Broadcast IP Addresses

These are utilized to direct data to all possible endpoints in the broadcast domain. Here the broadcast address for a network has all host bits on.

  • IPv4

This one utilizes 32 binary bits to make a distinct unique address on the network. Four numbers divided by dots state an IPv4 address. Every number is the fraction (base-10) representation for an eight-digit binary (base-2) number, also known as an octet. 

  • IPv6

It utilized 128 binary bits to make a unique solo address on the network. This one is conveyed by eight groups of hexadecimal (base-16) numbers parted by colons. Groups of figures that have all zeros are mostly misplaced to save space, leaving a colon centrifuge to spot the gap.

How Does Your PC Get an IP Address?

There are no second thoughts about the fact that an IP can be either Dynamic or Static.

  • Dynamic

These are allotted by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which is a service running on the network. DHCP classically operates on network hardware like routers or dedicated DHCP servers. These are issued utilizing a leasing system. It means to say that the IP address is only active for a short time. In case the lease terminates, the PC will request a new one via automatic processing.

  • Static

A Static address is the one that you configure yourself by editing your PC’s network settings. This kind of address is out of the ordinary, and it can generate network problems in case you utilize it without a good comprehension of TCP/IP.

Are They Really Just Numbers?

Simple answer, no. These numbers show a lot about you. All communications on the Internet are from an IP address to an IP address. Every webpage you visit sees the public IP address of your network router. So, none of them know the private IP address of your PC. In case you didn’t know, your public IP address reveals a lot of information about your connected device.

For example, you may send an email from your home, and someone would be able to know the city from which it was propelled. However, your current whereabouts aren’t the only data that’s out in the open. We’re talking ISP, device type, and even the browser you’re using. Here, take a look. This is what our IP Verifier shows about my device at the moment:IP Verifier

Privacy and IP Addresses

Some sites usually collect statistical data about the path that users take via a webpage. The most collective privacy issue surrounding IP addresses is their usage in marketing. Any website can track down the trail of clicks you leave behind.

On the following visit, that user could come across commercials that are comparable to those he ticked on the previous visit. But this flops when the user has a dynamic IP address: the user will be unidentified.

Therefore, most webpages select to utilize cookies to track users for adapted marketing reasons in inclination to IP addresses. A cookie is a small transcript file directed from a website to a visitor’s PC.

The cookie file can be utilized to recognize an individual, and a website operator can form a comprehensive profile of that person’s activity on its site. Users can arrange their web browsers to decline cookies, but most users accept them, every so often accidentally.

How to See Your IP Address?

Identifying your private IP address is useful in particular, and for most people in unusual circumstances. In case you need to attach one PC to another on your network, for instance, a mapped network drive, you can do so via its local IP address.

You can also utilize a local IP address with remote desktop software to control a PC from far off. A remote IP address is also required to direct a particular network port from a router to a specific PC on a similar network. It’s what we call port forwarding

You can find your private IP address in Windows by using Command Prompt with the ipconfig command. If you’re using Mac, head over to System Preferences -> Network -> Advanced, and you’ll find everything you need there.

Changing your IP Address

There is a higher possibility that you are using a dynamic IP address. It means to say that you get a new one every time you join to the Web. Though, you can only utilize several IPs interlinked with your Internet service provider. To alter your IP address, you have to use a VPN.

This sort of app will get you an on-demand IP in a gateway city of your choosing. It’s quite simple actually, you’re only a few clicks away from altering your IP and your location. This procedure has a lot of benefits, including cloaking your identity, accessing restricted content in a different state, and enhancing your online security.

Hiding your IP Address

Below are some of the ways through which you can hide your IP address:

Utilization of a Reliable VPN

VPN Logo 2A VPN, or virtual private network, is known as one of the finest ways to secure your online secrecy and preserve your data security. There are numerous perks of utilizing a personal VPN service over a proxy.

That includes high-speed bandwidth, usability, a safe connection, private access to jammed sites, and the ability to select the country where your traffic seems to be coming from. You can easily hide your IP address by using a good VPN.

If you want to check if the VPN connection took place, use this IP Tool to do so. After that, you can go surf the internet anonymously and freely.

Using Tor Browser

Tor LogoPeople from all around the world utilize Tor to search and purchase merchandise and communicate with others with delimited Internet access, like what happens in some foreign states.

The Tor Browser is a “free of cost” software that you can download onto your PC.

The program covers your IP address every time you go online. In other ways, it offers high-level secrecy and security courtesy of its heavy-duty encryption.

Use Free/Public Wi-Fi

Public Wifi IconAn IP address isn’t portable. So in case you need to go to a coffee shop, bookstore or hotel, and connect to their Wi-Fi, you will momentarily able to hide your standard IP address. It happens because you’ll be utilizing their network’s IP address for as long as you’re online. Just try it out.

Although you won’t be operating using your original IP, you’ll be risking your online privacy using these networks. If you don’t use a VPN, any hacker connected to the same network can snoop on or interrupt your browsing activities.

Therefore, whenever you’re using a public network, connect to a VPN first and browse away. At least, you’ll know that no one can harvest your data no matter how experienced they were.

Final Thoughts

Dear reader, this is where we close our guide to IP addresses. We hope that now you would be well-aware of everything related to IP and VPN. IP addresses are the main key for communication on the web. 

However, they do have their perks. Whenever your online, you’re compromising a lot of data. So, be careful, use one of those tools above, and you’ll be just fine. Now, if you need more explanation, give me a shout out in the comments below.

Tania Becker

Tania's work at Whatismyip.network revolves around covering the latest cybersecurity news. She has also written several guides on how to bypass regional restrictions.


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