More than three billion people have access to the internet. But how many of you have ever checked out – What is your public IP address? Your home or business broadband router requires a public IP address, provided by your ISP, to access the internet.
What is a public IP address
A public IP address is very similar to a postal address. Your ISP requires your unique public IP address to establish a connection between your networking device, such as a router, and a target website.
So, whenever you try to open any website, your ISP forwards that request including your unique public IP address to the target website server. In return, the target server returns the requested data via your public IP address.
However, if you are browsing the internet in an internal or a private network then your computer or smartphone first talk to your home router via a private IP address. Subsequently, your router, which is also connected to the outside world via public IP address, forwards and receives your request about any internet activity.
The whole process is seamlessly fast, and you may not even realise the entire workflow.
What is a public IP address range
IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) is the authority who is responsible for registering public IP address ranges to the various ISPs (Internet Service Providers). It is to be noted that public IP addresses are different from private IP addresses.
You cannot talk to the internet with a private IP address unless you have interfacing router in between your device and the internet. It is essential to know the private IP address range since all other IP addresses belong to public IP address range. Private IP address range is mentioned below.
- 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255
- 172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255
- 10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255
You can exclude the above range of IP addresses and the rest IP address range, 1.x.x.x to 191.x.x.x, belongs to the public IP address.
Public IP addresses are getting outnumbered
From last few year, you must be noticing IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) IP addresses along with IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) IP addresses. Do you know why there is an introduction of IPv6?
As I told you earlier, public IP addresses are always unique. Therefore, with the passage of time, growing number of networking devices are outnumbering the total available IPv4 IP addresses.
IPv4 based IP Addressing system follows 32-bit number system. Approximately 2 to power 232 = 4294967296 unique IP Addresses can be made available with IPv4 protocol. However, in the case of IPv6, there could be approximately 2 to power 2128= 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 unique IP addresses.
But still, a lot of development is happening around IPv6 protocol. Dynamic IP addressing has been helping internet community since beginning to cope up with the increasing demand of unique IPv4 IP address.
Difference between public and private IP address
We just saw that it has become imperative to look for the alternate solution to meet the growing demand for IPv4 IP addresses. That’s where private IP address comes as a rescue for organisations and home networks where multiple devices are required to access the internet.
A private IP address remains private inside a private or internal network without having any access to the internet. For example, if there are one hundred devices in an internal network then only one router with a unique public IP address is enough to suffice the requirement of all one hundred devices seeking internet access.
Also, different private networks can have the same private IP address without thinking of any possibility of IP address conflict. There are no limitations on the use of identical private IP addresses range among several private networks.
Your router uses DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) for automatic assignment of private IP addresses the different devices. Also, you can manually set the private IP address.
Static and dynamic public IP address
As the name suggests, a static IP address never changes. Typical examples are web hosting server and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). A web hosting server requires a static public IP address since a website requires a permanent IP address to keep its DNS record updated at all times.
For example, when you change your hosting company, you have to update the DNS records due to change in public IP address at hosting company side.
Static IP addresses are costly as they do not change. Also, they are vulnerable to hackers and viruses because of the very nature of being static. All hosting companies always try to implement best possible security to keep their system secure and safe.
We use internet intermittently. So, do we require a static public IP address? Probably no! Your ISP purchases only a set of public IP addresses which are dynamically assigned to various devices.
Every time you disconnect and connect your internet access, your router’s public IP address changes. ISP makes sure to allocate an unused public IP address dynamically to someone who is in need of internet access. Dynamic IP address allocation avoids the necessity of having many unique IP addresses blocked for no reason.
Also, if there were only static public IP addresses, then you could have abused your internet connection by hosting websites from your home itself. But with a dynamic IP addressing system, you keep guessing your next public IP address allocation.
What is my public IP address
Most of the time you may not have felt the need of knowing your public IP address. But at times you have to know your home network IP address. The most common scenario could be when you want to access your home computer over the internet.
But how can you check your public IP address? It is no brainer. There are many websites which can instantly provide your public IP address. Nowadays, a simple Google search with the keyword as “what is my IP address” may give your IP address. Isn’t it cool!
Another way of finding your public IP address is via home router administrator page. If you do not know the default IP address of your home router, then refer below table which has most make routers with their respective default IP address.
|Popular Router Manufacturer||Default Router IP Address|
Note: In any case, you can only know your public IP address from your parent network or location. You cannot view it from a different place sitting on a different network.
Can you change your public IP address?
No, you cannot change your public IP address. You are solely dependent on your ISP for the random IP address allocation.
How to hide public IP address
As stated before, whenever you visit a website you leave the trace in the form of your IP address. But what if you want to surf anonymously or hide your IP address. Is it possible?
Yes, you can hide your IP address by using a VPN or a proxy server. A proxy server or a VPN resides in between your networking device, such as your router, and the target website. So, whenever you open a site, the website only sees the IP address which is assigned at the VPN or a proxy server’s end.
You can even use a web proxy server to hide your IP address.