A numeric code that uniquely identifies a particular computer on the Internet.
Just as a street address identifies the location of your home or office, every device on the Internet has a unique address, too. This address, known as an IP address, allows information to be properly routed to and from each computer on the Internet. Your home PC was likely assigned a unique IP address by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
If you host your own website, it also has a unique IP address associated with it. When you registered your domain, or updated your domain’s DNS settings, information about that domain was sent to the Dynamic Name System, letting the rest of the internet know the IP address where your site is stored.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all the devices on my home network have their own IP address?
Chances are, you share your home internet connection with several devices. Rather than assign unique IP addresses to all of those devices (which would be nearly impossible to manage, given how many computers, smartphones, media streamers, Smart TVs, and other Internet-connected devices most homes now have), your router allows each of those devices to share your assigned IP address. Your router assigns internal, or LAN IP addresses, which can be used to identify each individual device on your network.
Does my IP address ever change?
Most of us have what is called a dynamic IP address, meaning it changes each time we log on to the Internet. Each time your modem connects to your ISP, it requests an IP address, which your devices can then use to communicate with the rest of the Internet. Since this address changes, it provides a higher degree of security than a Static IP address. That said, most home Internet is provided via an always-on broadband connection, so even if you have a dynamic IP address, chances are it doesn’t change very often.
There are times when having a never-changing, or Static IP address is preferable. If you host a gaming website, use your computer as a file server, or support a Virtual Private Network, having an IP address that never changes can make connecting to these services more reliable. Static IP addresses, however, pose a great security risk and are more likely to be targeted by data mining companies. Static IP addresses are typically reserved for businesses and web servers, and may not be available to home users.
How can I find out my IP address?
While there is little reason you will ever need to know your IP address (unless someone needs to access your computer remotely), if you want to find out what it is, a simple web search will tell you. Not only are there plenty of sites that can provide this information, but both Google and Bling provide it automatically when you search for “IP Address.” You can also view your IP address via your computer’s network connections information page.