What Is an IP Address and How Does It Work?

what is an ip address and how does it work

An IP is an Internet Protocol. It’s the protocol (or method) by which digital information is transferred from one computer to another. A computer which is online is referred to as a host and it will have one or more IP addresses which are unique identifiers. In the most popular and modern form of the Internet Protocol, each IP address consists of thirty-two numbers which identify every receiver (or sender) of data.

Online data is sent in the form of packets. If a person sends out an electronic communication or requests an HTML page, the IP portion of the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) will include the person’s IP address in the message. In fact, the IP address will be included in every packet (in cases where more than a single packet is needed).

On the other side, the receiver will be able to view the IP address of the person who sent the email or the IP address of the requester of the Web page.

Now, we’ve covered the technical details. However, there is more to share.

More important Facts About IP Addresses

Basically, if you have a home computer, you’ve been assigned an IP through your Internet service provider (ISP). There may be more than one device in your home which has this IP. For example, if you have a couple of computers, they’ll both have the same IP, unless you ask your Internet service provider to change the IP. If you do ask for the IP to be changed, a new IP will be assigned and both computers will share that IP.

When you’re online, some people will be able to look up your IP address. At work, your employer may be able to track you via your work computer’s IP, etc. Websites that you visit will also know which IP you have. However, Webmasters at these websites will not share IP information unless they are forced to do so legally.

Also, if you send an email, there are ways for the recipient to open the properties of the email and look at your IP.

Some people want more privacy than this and they choose to cloak their online activities by utilizing virtual private networks. These are called VPNs for short and they exist to hide actual IPs, by masking them with other IPs. Virtual private networks typically have servers all around the world.

Is it possible to Track the Location of an IP Address?

In terms of looking up information related to other people’s IPs, there are services online which help people to do this. When you punch in an IP address at one of these services, you should be able to find out the location of that IP, or of the ISP. You won’t be able to find out a name or address of the person who is using the IP.

If someone is bothering you online and you want to track them via their IP, you’ll likely need the help of law enforcement.

As you can see, an IP is a unique identifier of a computer or other device which operates online. IP addresses communicate online and this communication forms the Internet as we know it. Hope that answers ‘what is an ip address and how does it work’ for you. Leave a comment below with any questions.

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