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What's My IP Address?

What Is An IP Address?

by Drake on May 24, 2010

Disclaimer: Since I suppose that even the most unexperienced webmaster out there knows the answer to most technical questions addressed in this space, I would like to make it clear that most posts in this blog will be written in a way that should be easy to understand for everybody.

Simply put, an IP address (determine your current IP address now) is a number that uniquely identifies a machine connected to the Internet. Every machine connected to the internet – your desktop PC, your laptop, your mobile phone, your gaming console – is assigned a unique IP Address. Think about an IP address like a phone number. An IP address, like your unique phone number, is necessary to let you send and receive data when connected to the Internet. The IP address identifies you, and most servers you visit on the Internet will keep track of your actions by registering your IP address.

Often, many machines share the same public IP address. This happens, for example, when you have a Wi-Fi router in your house or in your office and every machine in the house connects to it. In most cases, all machines connected to the Internet through this router will share the same public IP address – since only the router is directly connected to the Internet, whereas the other machines are first connecting to the router, which then routes the traffic to and from the Internet.

Some IP addresses are reserved for use into private networks – in the example above, the private network would be the connection between your router and all the machines into your house. Since these IPs are used only inside a private network to let a bunch of machines talk to each other, they do not need to be globally unique, like public IP addresses.

I hope this brief post is clear enough. Questions for future features, always written in this plain language, are welcome. In the next feature, we will talk about anonymity on the Internet.

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