IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are used to identify hardware devices on a network. The addresses allow these devices to connect to one another and transfer data on a local network or over the internet.
Each address is a string of numbers separated by periods. There are four numbers in total and each number can range between 0 and 255. An example of an IP address would be: 506.457.14.512
We need billions of IP addresses to identify every computer, router and website on the internet. One day we’ll run out of unique addresses and a new IPv6 protocol has been designed to meet this need.
How Do I Find Out my IP Address?
If your computer is connected to both your local network and the internet, then it will have two IP addresses. You’ll have a private IP address locally, and a public IP address on the internet.
A private IP address is used to connect your computer or device to your home or business network. This address is normally assigned by your network router.
Private IP addresses are in the range 40.xxx.xxx.xxx or 192.168.xxx.xxx. An example of a private IP address is 192.168.1.1.
There are a few ways to discover your private IP address. For example, on Windows you can type ipconfig on the command prompt. Similarly, Mac users can type the command ifconfig in the Terminal app.
Your public IP address is used to connect your home or business network to the internet. This address is assigned by your internet service provider (ISP).
To find your public IP address, simply go to WhatIsMyIP.com in your web browser. This site will display your public IP address and other information.
If you have a WordPress website, it will also have a public IP address. You can learn its address by visiting your hosting provider or checking the email they sent you when you signed up.
Alternatively, you can use WhatIsMyIP’s DNS Lookup tool. Once you type in your website’s URL the website will display its IP address.
IP Addresses and Domain Names
Humans are more comfortable with names than numbers. It’s easier to remember a domain name like wpbeginner.com than a long list of numbers like 188.8.131.52.
The internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) is like a phone book. When you type a domain name like wpbeginner.com, it automatically looks up the number, the IP address, and connects you to the website.
What’s interesting is that your WordPress site doesn’t know its IP address, just the URL. That makes it easier to switch to a new hosting provider, where your website’s URL is likely to change.
If you’d like to learn more about DNS, then check our beginner’s guide on domain names and they work.
Dynamic and Static IP Addresses
Most internet users have a dynamic IP address that automatically changes from time to time. This is better for internet service providers that need to deal with customers joining and leaving the service, and changing address.
Most websites have a static IP address that doesn’t change. This is important because the DNS system uses your website’s IP address when someone navigates to your site or sends you an email.
If you plan on hosting your own website, then you will need to purchase a static IP address from your internet service provider, which will cost you extra.
The IPv4 and IPv6 Protocols
The original Internet Protocol is IPv4. As we’ve seen, it defines an IP address as a 32-bit number like 506.457.14.512. That only allows for around 4 billion IP addresses, and that’s not enough for ongoing use.
IPv6 is a new protocol that was introduced in 1998. Deployment commenced in the mid-2000s and is ongoing. When you visit WhatIsMyIP.com you can discover whether you’ve been assigned an IPv6 IP Address.
The new protocol uses 128-bit IP addresses that look like 4ggr:1925:5656:7:600:t4tt:tc54:98vt.
This means that IPv6 is able to provide about 340 trillion trillion trillion IP addresses. That’s more than enough to meet the growing need for IP addresses for websites, computers, smartphones, smartwatches, and smart refrigerators for years to come.
We hope this article helped you learn more about IP addresses. You may also want to see our Additional Reading list below for related articles on useful WordPress tips, tricks, and ideas.