Whether it's a matter of warning notices or the blocking of YouTube videos for German users - the term IP address is often used in Internet topics. But what does this mean? How can you determine the IP address of your computer and how can you hide your own IP? We tell you.
IP stands for Internet Protocol, a standard for sending data in computer networks and on the Internet. The IP address is an address that computers use to communicate with each other: By addressing, they can be reached on the network and on the Internet and can exchange data packets.
IP - what is it?
To illustrate what the IP address does, the house number or the license plate is often used as an example. As with the postal address or the car license plate, an end user and his or her system can be uniquely identified by means of the IP address - both on the Internet and in the internal network.
Mac addresses are also used for unique identification on the network. However, this is static and permanently connected to the hardware. This means that every network interface, i.e. network card, Bluetooth, WLAN adapter and the like, has a unique and worldwide unique MAC address.
Now you might ask yourself why you never had to enter an IP address to access a website. The reason is simple: IP addresses are long sequences of numbers that are much harder to remember than an address like "freeproxysites.co". However, every domain is linked to an IP address in the background. So-called DNS servers convert your input into the appropriate IP address in the background.
Determining the IP address
You want to know what your IP address is? Then use our "What's my IP address?" service It shows you the IP address that your computer is currently connected to the Internet. You can also see what other traces you leave behind on the net.
By the way: Not only can you read your IP address, you can also find out the IP address of other people - the Windows onboard tools are sufficient for this.
IP addresses are not only important on the Internet, but also in your home network. You want to find out the IP address of your computer in a local network? This is possible under Windows and Mac without additional software. How? We will tell you in separate tutorials:
Geolocation: Determine and locate an IP
An IP address is usually used temporarily. If you connect to the Internet - whether by smartphone, router or modem - you will be assigned an IP address by your provider. With the next dial-in or - in case of normal internet connections - after 24 hours at the latest, this will change.
Only providers are able to assign an IP to a person. And only the local courts can force the provider to disclose this data. At the moment, this data is stored for six months, so don't wait too long when you place an ad, the data will be gone after that.
What always works is the approximate assignment of an IP to a location. This is due to the fact that providers always use the same IP blocks and usually assign them to the same regions. You can easily try this out by entering an IP in the text field.
Disguise IP address
You can be located by your IP address. This method is often used to implement so-called country blocks on the Internet. In streaming services, for example, they are used to prevent users from Germany from accessing content that is actually only intended for US users.
Such country blocks are usually set up for licensing reasons. However, they can usually be circumvented by concealing the IP address. This can be done by using a proxy server or a VPN service, for example. You can read more about this in our special "Bypass country blocks".
IPv4 versus IPv6
Not all IP addresses are the same. This is because with the introduction of version 6 of the Internet Protocol (IPv6) in June 2012, the structure and composition of the IP address has changed in comparison to the IPv4 standard previously used. This became necessary because more and more devices are connected to the Internet and there were not enough unique addresses available.
In our section Network World Knowledge we explain in detail how the new standard differs from its predecessors and which advantages and disadvantages IPv6 brings with it.