Your public IP address is the internet protocol address assigned to your main router and provided by your ISP or internet service provider. The public IP address differentiates different devices connected to the internet. Your public IP address ensures that any requests you make on the internet, such as opening a website, are returned to you and not someone else. You have an email address to ensure emails get to you and a home address to ensure the mail gets to you. The IP address works just like that but over the internet. You generally don’t need to know your public IP address though if you ever need to connect to your home network via a remote access program, you will need to know the unique string of numbers.
Public Vs. Private IP Address
To find your public IP address, you need to know the difference to a public IP address versus a private IP address. Without getting technical, they are the same thing, a string of unique numbers used to identify computer devices. Both forms of IP address are necessary for communication, though the level of communication is limited depending on the type of IP address. Your router has a public IP address that receives information from the internet. Any devices connected to the router have a private IP address which the router uses to ensure the collected data from a website then goes to the correct device. In short, your private IP address is only viewable to your router and other devices using the network, and your public IP address is visible by the internet.
How Can I Find My Public IP Address?
With an IP Address Finding Website
Your public IP address is easy to find if you know where to look. The simplest way to find your public IP address is to use a third-party website such as http://ip4.me/. You will be shown your IP address in its Ipv4 form, a string of 4 numbers separated by periods. The number should look something like one of the IP address below:
- 192.168 1.254
- 192.168 0.1
With Your Router’s Administration Page
You can also find your IP address without using a website. Your router administration page can show you your public IP address along with other information related to your router. To access your router administration page:
- Open up your web browser (chrome, firefox, Microsoft edge) and type in your router’s IP address into the search bar. You can find the IP address of your router on a label on the back of the unit.
- You will then have to input your router login details. If you have never accessed your router page before, the login details will be the default details, generally found on the base of the router. If you have changed these details, input your username and login.
- You will then have the router administration page open on your browser, which will show you the necessary details.
With Your Computer Command Prompt
If your computer uses Windows, you can find your public IP address with the use of your computer’s command prompt by making a DNS request. First, you need to open your command prompt:
- Access your command prompt from the start menu. Open search, and type in “command prompt.”
- Once you have the command prompt open type in “nslookup myip.opendns.com. resolver1.opendns.com” and hit enter.
- After running the command, you will see two sets of results. The first is the address of the DNS server and the second result is your public IP address
You can also use “Terminal” if using a computer that uses macOS. The process is similar.
- Open your “utilities” folder, and then launch “Terminal”
- Type in either “curl ifconfig.me” or curl ipecho.net/plain ; echo”
- Either command will bring up your public IP address
And finally, if you are using a Linux based operating system, the following steps will allow you to see your public IP address.
- Open the terminal window
- Type in “dig +short myip.opendns.com @resolver1.opendns.com” and press enter
- You can find your public IP address beneath the command line.
Why Did My Public IP Address Change?
You may go to check your IP address one day to notice it has changed from the last time. Changes to a public IP address are standard, and if it does change, you have a dynamic IP. The practice of ISPs changing a user’s public IP address started when domestic internet use was in its infancy. Someone would connect to the internet for a short time and be assigned an IP address. Then they would disconnect, and someone else, using a different router, would then use that same IP address. Even though many people stay connected to the internet these days, most ISPs still use dynamic addresses as it saves them from purchasing static IP addresses. As well as saving money, it stops customers of the ISP from using the IP address to host a website without using a hosting service. A dynamic IP is also more secure for domestic internet users, as it makes it harder for someone with malicious intent to access your home network.
A static IP does not change and is used by networks that host websites to ensure a website administrator can always access the server. Static IP addresses are not suitable for the standard internet user. They require additional management, cost more, and if you moved house, you would have to set up your router again, instead of just being assigned a new dynamic IP address. In short, unless you have a particular use for a static IP address, a dynamic IP address is better for everyone.
How To Hide Your Public IP Address
As the name suggests, your public IP address is viewable by nearly everyone. Your ISP and the websites you visit can see it, and if someone you don’t know, if they have the know-how can find it without much trouble. If you are security conscious, you may wish to hide your public IP address from prying eyes, and the easiest way to do this is with a VPN.
When you connect to a VPN or virtual private network, your public IP address gets replaced with a new one generated by the VPN. Any website you visit won’t be able to see your actual location effectively hiding your identity. You could be in the US but have your location showing as you being in the UK. Even if you aren’t looking to protect your identity, a VPN will allow you to access content that is location restricted.
There are lots of VPN services available, with some being free and some being subscription-based. It is best to look at what the service offers before you make a commitment and always ensure that the VPN service is legit. If you are hiding your public IP address for your security, you don’t want to use a service that will pass on your actual IP address to third parties.
Some Extra Knowledge Never Hurt Anyone
You generally don’t need to know your public IP address, though being equipped with the know-how to find it won’t hurt. You might one day have some issues with your network, and knowing how to find your public IP address will make any needed repairs that much easier to perform. User remote control programs also require you to know your home networks’ public IP address. These are just two examples of why you should know how to find your public IP address.
It is also useful to know how to hide your public IP address from prying eyes. Not many people realize how much their public IP address can reveal about them. Your general location, browsing history, and email address that originate from your public IP address can all be available if someone wanted to dig. A VPN can make it that much harder for someone to dig out that information.