“What is my IP” is something I’m asked occasionally. When a mildly confused customer emails me with that question, my first response is to ask why they need it. I’m not trying to be a pain, I’m just a little wary about the reasons. Let’s start from the beginning.
What is an IP address for beginners?
IP address simply means Internet Protocol address. It’s a string of numbers like 22.214.171.124 and serves as a home address. Everything connected to the Internet must follow a set of protocols or rules. Think of it as your mailing address for the web. Why do you have one? Your internet provider assigned you one with your account and uses it to direct traffic to and from your browser. That string of numbers is how computers interpret website addresses. It’s not just computers that have IP addresses. Printers, for instance, that connect to the internet have one. If you’re on a network, you have an IP address.
Think of the IP address as your home address for computers. Anyone that can find it will have a general idea as to where you are. No, your home address isn’t attached nor is your personal info, but it’s pretty handy for narrowing down where a computer is located. It’s just a way to geolocate the nearest connection to your internet provider.
Here’s an example:
Type in 126.96.36.199 and google.com will pop up. Give it a try. Your browser basically translates the numbers into a name you understand. It’s much easier to remember google.com than 188.8.131.52. If you type in your IP address, you’ll be directed to the nearest connection supplied by your provider, but not exactly where you are am, the general area.
Static vs Dynamic IP address
Most users have what is called a dynamic IP address. That means it changes every time you connect to the internet or reboot your modem. Some, for a variety of reasons, have a static IP address. That means they are assigned a specific address that never changes. I’m not going to go into all the nuts and bolts about this now. Suffice to say, the majority of home users have a dynamic address. Dynamic IP addresses are a little harder to hack because of their changing nature. Today you may be 192.155.698.1 and tomorrow you might be 192.155.698.8 (I used random numbers as a demonstration).
Why would anyone need to know their IP address?
Most people who ask don’t really need to know it. However, it is pretty handy when troubleshooting network issues, such as speed tests and finding out why something won’t connect to the network properly.
I did encounter a person who suddenly couldn’t connect to a few sites they used for years. A bit of detective work helped here. Their IP address had been blacklisted because of spam coming from it. Because their IP address was dynamic, it had changed at one point and they were assigned the troublesome IP. In this case, the solution was quick – unplug the modem and plug it back in again. They were assigned a new address and could access the site.
Not all blacklisted IPs are that easy to fix, but when dealing with dynamic IPs, it can be that simple.
Ok, so what is my IP address?
No problem. It’s easy to find. Before we go there, a word of warning. You have no reason to give you IP address to anyone unless it’s your tech support person that you have dealt with in the past. If someone emails or calls and asks, decline to give it to them. Their trolling for info.
It’s pretty easy to find your IP address. You can use an online service that quickly ids it. There are many sites online you can access just by googling “What is my IP address”. I find the website What is my IP address helpful. Not only does it display all relevant info, it also has a handy little button to check if your IP has been blacklisted.
There are other ways to find your IP address, but for most people, just using the link above will do.