What is my IP address?

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Have you ever wondered how the ads you see online always seem to line up with things you've searched for before? Or perhaps you've seen the little "welcome back" pop up on sites you're not signed into and wondered how they know that you've been there before? These functions can be both useful if you know why they're happening, and slightly concerning if you're unsure, so we decided to shine some light on a key component of how things like this occur. 

Essentially, these things happen because websites make use of cookies, which are best explained as trackers that attach themselves to your IP address and allow websites to remember you, and serve you targeted advertisements. However, that then leaves the question of what an IP address is, which is what this piece will be centred around. 

What's an IP address?

The term IP address is short for Internet Protocol address. The easiest way to explain it is that it's a unique identifier connected to your device or network.

Your IP address is an important part of connecting to the internet and everybody has one. In fact, if you connect to the internet from more than one device, you've probably got multiple. 

IP addresses can be either dynamic or static, with the former providing better security for individuals, while the latter better serves businesses and networks where all devices must be readily identifiable. 

What is my IP address?

Your IP address at the present point in time is shown in the widget below.

If you are connected via a mobile network, this address is linked to your unique device. Those reading this article from a private WiFi connection will see the IP address of their router. 

Icon Location  Dark
Here's your IP address
Your Location
Device Type
Operating System
Internet Service Provider

How do I find my IP address?

There are many ways to find your IP address. The simplest is to ask Google or your preferred search engine, however, this will show information linked with your router rather than your device if you're on a private WiFi network. 

In order to find the IP address of your specific device, you will need to access this information via your device settings. It can be found under the "connections" section. The process to get here varies depending on what type of device you're using, but most have a search function for programs and settings, so we recommend using this feature for ease of access. 

How do I hide my IP address?

There are many reasons why you may wish to hide your IP address, with the most common being for privacy and security. Other than this, the main reason why you may wish to keep your identity hidden is for online shopping, as you can sometimes get better pricing if a website believes you're a new visitor (although for this to work you'll also need to clear your cookies). You may also need to make your IP address present as being in a certain location if you work remotely and need to access local resources.

No matter the reason why you wish to disguise your IP address, your goal can be achieved with the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Essentially what a VPN does is generate a random IP address and assign it to your desired location. Your device then presents as being within that space, therefore offering you privacy and greatly enhanced security. 

To find out more about VPNs, please browse the below resources:

Please note: Although VPNs provide many great benefits, they do not cover all bases in terms of security. For this reason, we strongly suggest pairing your chosen VPN with quality virus protection software.

How do I change my IP address?

Due to the unique and identifiable nature of IP addresses, it makes sense that you would want to change yours from time to time. There are a few ways to do this, including the below options:

Reset your router

If you're on a home WiFi network, the quickest and easiest way to change your IP address is to do a hard reset of your router. This can be achieved by powering off the device, unplugging it and keeping it unplugged for at least ten seconds.

This method will make the router believe that it is a new connection, and it will therefore generate a new address.

Use a VPN

Another simple and easy way to change your IP address is to connect to a VPN. As noted above, VPNs are an efficient way to appear as if your device is different and/or elsewhere.

It is important to note that this will only change your IP address while you are connected to the VPN and is therefore not a permanent solution.

Connect to a proxy server

A proxy server functions in much the same way as a VPN when it comes to changing your IP address. It does not, however, encrypt your data, so if you're looking to switch things up for security reasons, we still suggest choosing a VPN.

As a proxy server is an external network, it will also only change your IP address while you are connected.

Set your device to automatically update

Those who are a bit more technically savvy can set their device up so that it will automatically update its IP address. 

When using a mobile device this can be done through the settings in the connections section. Those on a PC will need to use the command prompt function to tell the computer that it needs to refresh. 

Manually update it

Finally, it is possible to manually update your IP address. We do not recommend this, however, as if it isn't done correctly, you will not be able to connect to the internet until the issue is resolved.

Final word

Your IP address is a unique identifier that tells websites and other internet users who you are. In most cases this isn't really a big deal. However, if you are particularly privacy or security conscious, or deal with sensitive data or activities, it is wise to obscure your IP address while browsing. This is best done with a VPN as it is a simple and effective solution, but it is important to remember to also take other precautions.

For more information about staying safe online, check out our piece on the A to Z of internet security.

Jessica Jones
Written by
Jessica Jones
Jess has been writing educational content for almost ten years with a focus on lifestyle content. She loves coffee, dogs and all things fitness, and can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her music blaring through her earphones.

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