With the creation of the internet, the term “IP address” entered our vocabulary. This somewhat mysterious sounding term, actually refers to something relatively understandable and very useful in our technological age. IP address is the abbreviated “Internet Protocol” address after the Internet Protocol, which is the set of rules which governs how data is sent between computers on the internet. An IP address is a numerical label assigned to any device (computer, smartphone, printer, tablet, etc.) that connects to the internet. Much like the way a street address is used, an IP address helps computers locate each other and communicate. A computer doesn’t actually connect to the internet directly, but through a network, which is a group of devices that are all in communication by various transmission media (radio waves, satellites, cables, telephone lines, etc.). Not everyone uses the same network; many people use the network of an internet service provider. IP addresses help identify which network a specific device is on and the location of that device, so that a path for information from other devices can be established. The specific IP address each device uses is extremely helpful in ensuring the right online request is routed to the right device.

Why would you or anyone else need to actually know the numerical label of your IP address anyway? Some people, like advertisers or police, will simply want to know where a device is located in order to advertise local businesses or find a suspect in a crime. Since your IP address is used every time you access a website, a business website may use that info to see if you visits their site repeatedly. IP addresses can also be used to access files from a different computer remotely. So basically, with knowledge of your home computer’s IP address, you can access files from your home computer from work. An IT worker may use your IP address to view your screen to help with any computer issues. There is a ton of reasons why one would need to know an IP address.

Since IP addresses are assigned to help identify specific devices on specific networks in a specific location, your IP address can actually change when you change location or network. So when you go to the library to do some work or a local coffee shop, you actually have a different IP address. An easy way to determine your current IP address for whatever the reason is to look it up through a site, such as, ipchicken.com/. On ipchicken.com/ your current IP address will be displayed in blue under “Current IP Address”.

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