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FAQ Article: What is an IP address?

An IP address (IPv4) is a unique number given to your computer/device when you use you are on a network (such as the Internet). Think of it as your zipcode or postcode on the Internet - its something that makes it so that other computers/devices can identify you uniquely and find you on the Internet/Network.

The format of an IP address is a 32-bit numeric address written as four numbers separated by periods. Each number can be zero to 255. For example, could be an IP address. Within an isolated network, you can assign IP addresses at random as long as each one is unique. However, connecting a private network to the Internet requires using registered IP addresses (called Internet addresses) to avoid duplicates.

So - you want to know what your IP address is? Well...there are lots of ways to find out. The simplest way to find your Internet IP address is probably to just visit a website such as: This is your assigned IP address for use on the Internet and the IP address most websites/servers will be seeing for you.

I don't want to confuse you too much - but you can have a different local IP address for communicating with systems on your Local Area Network (LAN). In order to determine your local IP address (and lots of other cool network info) - use the command "ipconfig /all" from a Windows DOS prompt - or, if you are a Unix/Linux user - do a "ifconfig -a" from your shell.

To get a bit more technical for a moment - the four numbers in an IP address are used in different ways to identify a particular network and a host on that network. Four regional Internet registries -- ARIN, RIPE NCC, LACNIC and APNIC -- assign Internet addresses from the following three classes.

  • Class A - supports 16 million hosts on each of 126 networks

  • Class B - supports 65,000 hosts on each of 16,000 networks

  • Class C - supports 254 hosts on each of 2 million networks

The number of unassigned Internet addresses is running out, so a new classless scheme called CIDR is gradually replacing the system based on classes A, B, and C and is tied to adoption of IPv6 (see our FAQ article on IPv6 for more information).

Believe it or not, people can find out absolutely tons of stuff about you just from seeing your IP address. You also probably don't realise that your IP address is logged practically every time you do anything on the net. This happens so that if you do something you shouldn't be (being an evil Haxor for instance!) the people who logged your IP can contact your Internet service provider to register a complaint about you.

The other dangerous thing about someone having your IP address is that more-often-than-not your IP address will give them a direct way for their computer to reach yours. If your computer system is directly connected to the Internet and has open ports - people can connect to those ports and attempt to gain access via the daemon/service running (more about this in other FAQ articles!).

This has been a very brief introduction to IP - but if you use google you should find tons more information.
Comment by DEVAL SHARMA - 12-08-2005

The scenario is too good as well as damm easy to understand.

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