Discovering Your IP Address
When you give your computer a name, it doesn't translate to an identifying number that networks and the internet can use. Instead, computers rely on IP addresses, which are numerical identifiers. The term "IP" is short for "internet protocol," a component of TCP/IP, the most common communication language used by networks.
Most computers have several IP addresses. The IP address assigned to the router by your internet service provider is how your computer communicates with the internet. The router manages all the traffic from your computers and devices. Although the website only sees the IP address from the router, the router knows how to send the information to and receive it from the computer. DHCP is the protocol that routers use to assign IP addresses to computers on internal networks, such as Ethernet or Wi-Fi networks in homes or offices so that they can communicate with each other.
Dynamic IP addresses are temporary and are subject to change. However, for certain types of network communications that require locating the same node repeatedly, setting up static IP addresses are important. Static IP addresses are available for computers and routers, as well. Routers with a static IP address are useful for running web servers.
IP addresses usually consist of four decimal numbers separated by dots, with each set of three numbers called an octet. IPv4 addresses are limited to four billion addresses. However, IPv6 addresses have 128 bits and eight groups of four hexadecimal digits (lower-case letters and numbers mixed), separated by a colon. IPv6 offers 34 multiplied by 10^37 possible addresses, or 2 to the 128th power, meaning that there are significantly more addresses.
To find your public IP address, search for "what is my IP?" You can find your router's public IP address by consulting a public list of IP addresses. Websites like WhatIsMyIP.com and IPLocation can provide additional information, such as the name of your internet service provider, your location, and maps.
GeoIP data is not completely reliable and only provides an estimated location of the provider rather than the actual device. During a site visit, the location reported was inconsistent with latitude/longitude coordinates indicating a location in North Carolina, which could be attributed to the data center of the ISP. It is advisable to log out of your VPN service and obtain a search warrant to get the precise public IP address.
Every device that connects to your internal network, including PCs, smartphones, smart TVs, and network printers, has an IP address, regardless of whether it uses Wi-Fi or Ethernet. On a basic network, the router usually has an IP address of 192.168.0.1, which serves as the "gateway." DHCP assigns addresses to devices, with the last octet varying. The subnet mask helps divide a large network into groups, and most home networks adopt a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0.
Finding the IP address on Windows requires using the command prompt, searching for "cmd," typing "ipconfig," and pressing Return/Enter. On a Mac, navigate to System Preferences and select Network, then click the TCP/IP tab to view the IPs. On iOS/iPadOS, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and select the "i" in a circle next to the network. To obtain the IP addresses of other devices on the network, access the router using the web browser and navigate to "attached devices" to view the list.
If you happen to be fortunate, you own a contemporary router (or a group of routers that make up a mesh system) that can be managed through mobile applications. The application may serve to simplify the process of locating the desired IP addresses. Simply click the symbol adjacent to each device to reveal the IP address and additional details for each one.
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