Many aspects of our lives have identity measures in place, and the internet is no exception. Like cars with VIN numbers, the internet has “IP addresses”. This guide will delve deeper into an IP address’s significance, purpose, and inner mechanics to determine exactly what it means and what it reveals.
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a sequence of numbers assigned to a device that is connected to the internet, just like an address on a property. Your IP address is used to connect with other computers, websites, and all aspects of cyberspace.
The internet protocol (IP) address itself is a numerical string that uniquely identifies computers on the internet and allows them to communicate with each other. Every internet-connected device has an IP address, and billions of IP addresses are available. Your internet service provider will assign an IP address to your internet-connected devices, and each one is unique.
In simpler terms: An IP address is a membership card that allows you to access the internet. Every device that can connect to the internet, from computers to phones, is a member of the internet and therefore will have an IP address. To interact with websites and computer networks, you’ll need that sort of authentication.
What’s the point of IP addresses?
An IP address reveals your location to help the internet deliver material that is tailored to you. For example, your IP address is responsible for the local restaurants that appear when you search for “Italian restaurants near me.”
Here’s how to find your IP address
You can find your IP address by Googling “what is my IP address?”. Your IP address is given back to you by the internet. Because it is linked to your device and must browse the web, the internet knows your IP address.
It’s also worth noting that your IP address varies each time you connect to a new Wi-Fi network or router. Online users won’t notice the difference, and in most cases, they don’t need to – much like how they don’t need to understand how to interpret an IP address.
What data does an IP address show?
The IP addresses that are used to connect your computer to the internet do reveal your location, but not your precise address or name, and never any other personal information. With that being said, a lot of people choose to utilise a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide their IP and make browsing more private. You can learn more about VPNs here.
Furthermore, your IP address may disclose your city, zip code, or area code where you are connecting to the internet at that time — this is why IP addresses vary after each connection from a new place or using a new router.
The IP address of your router is almost always displayed, rather than the IP address of your specific device connected to that router.
Sure, your router shares its IP address with internet-connected devices, but it has a unique IP address to allow your device access to the World Wide Web.
Because of this, your IP address generally identifies the nearest ISP’s servers instead of your physical location.