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What’s an IP Address and How Do I Find Mine?

What’s an IP Address and How Do I Find Mine?

Whenever you want to browse the web or send an email, your computer needs to exchange information with a web server or with another computer. But how exactly do computers and servers locate one another when there are more than 7 billion devices sharing the internet?
The short answer: computers find one another by searching for each other’s IP address
What’s an IP Address and How Do I Find Mine Infographic

What’s an IP address?

Think of an IP address like a mailing address:
An IP address (which stands for “Internet Protocol address”) identifies the computer so other devices on the internet can find it and share information with it
Every computer has a unique IP address

What’s IPv4?

The most common type of IP address is IP Version 4 (IPv4). An IPv4 address consists of 4 numbers separated by dots:
Each of those 4 numbers is represented by 8 binary digits (also known as an octet). Binary is a language that consists of alternating 0s and 1s:
192: 11000000
23: 00010111
57: 00111001
125: 01111101
In binary code, that IP address would look like:
Binary numbers can only go as high as 255, which is the maximum number in 8-digit binary: 11111111

Meet IPv6

As more and more computers were connected to the internet, there were concerns that there wouldn’t be enough IP addresses for every device! That’s why IPv6 was invented
IPv6 uses:
  • Numbers 1-9
  • Letters A, B, C, D, E, F
It also doubles the length of an IPv4 address
IPv6 has more possible IP combinations than IPv4. Rest assured there won’t be an IP Address shortage anytime soon
IPv6 is slowly being adopted by tech companies worldwide. As of 2019, nearly 30% of Google users connect to the site with an IPv6 address [1]. But IPv4 is still expected to be in use for years to come.

How does your computer get its IP address?

Your computer’s IP address is assigned by a program called the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). Usually, the DHCP is built into your network router
When your computer connects to a network:
  • Your computer sends off a message requesting an IP address from a DHCP
  • The DHCP issues an IP address to your computer that doesn’t match other IP addresses on the network
IP addresses have an expiration date. When your IP address expires, your computer will request a new one from the DHCP

Breaking down an IP address

A mailing address gives you several different kinds of identifiers:
1501: Building number
Page Mill Rd: Street name
Palo Alto: City name
CA: State name
An IP address can be broken down in the same way. There are 2 separate parts of an IP address: the Network ID and the Host ID
  • Network ID: Identifies the network you’re connected to
  • Host ID: Identifies your computer
Red: Network ID
Black: Host ID

How do computers use IP addresses to find one another?

Let’s say that you’re trying to visit a website on your web browser. First, you connect your computer to the internet:
  • Your computer is given an IP address by your internet service provider (ISP)
  • You enter the website name in the address bar in your browser - your computer sends a request for the website’s data
  • Your data request first goes to a domain name server (DNS), which is also provided by your ISP
  • The DNS translates the website name into an IP address { 🡪 192.X.X.X.}
  • Your request travels from network to network until it locates the IP address of the website you’re looking for
  • The website server agrees to send you its data so you can browse the site
  • Your IP address is included with your data request - it’s like a return address!

How can I find my computer’s IP address?

You can find your computer’s IP address in a couple of different ways!
The Google method:
  • Type “What’s my IP address?” into the Google search engine and press Enter
The Windows 10 method:
  • Open up your HP Windows laptop
  • Press the Windows key
  • Search for an open Settings
  • Select Network & Internet
  • Select either WiFi or Ethernet, depending on your connection type
  • Select the network you’re connected to
  • Scroll down the page and you’ll find your IP address and the DNS you’re connected to
On Windows 10, you can also find your computer’s IP address using the Windows Command Line:
  • Press the Windows key and the X key at the same time
  • Click either Command Prompt (Admin) or Windows PowerShell (Admin), depending on the version you're running
  • Type ipconfig and press the Enter key
Next time you browse the web, stream videos, send emails, or post to social media, take a moment and be thankful for your computer’s unique IP address!
[1]; IPv6 Statistics

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