What Is An IP Address? - Easily Explained

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What Is An IP Address? - Easily Explained
What Is An IP Address? - Easily Explained

Video: What Is An IP Address? - Easily Explained

Video: What Is An IP Address? - Easily Explained
Video: IP addresses. Explained. 2023, September

An IP address (I nternet P rocotol address) is the address of a device in the network or on the Internet. The router of a network assigns each Internet-enabled device its own IP address. The router knows from the IP address from which device a data request came. The router executes the instruction and then forwards the result back to the corresponding IP address from which the request originally came.

Here you can see the internal IP addresses of a home network. Picture: GIGA
Here you can see the internal IP addresses of a home network. Picture: GIGA

Example: Open website on smartphone

Your smartphone has the IP address in your network. Now you want to open a website on it. The following happens:

  1. The request is sent to the router.
  2. The router remembers that the request came from the IP address
  3. The router then sends the request to the website server on the Internet, which has, for example, the IP address
  4. The server transmits the necessary data back to your router.
  5. The router then forwards the data to the original sender of the request, i.e. the IP address
  6. Result: The website is displayed on your smartphone.

Conclusion: digital postal system

The IP addresses therefore serve a digital postal system in which data is sent from a sender to the recipient and back. The network devices always know via the IP addresses to which device they have to forward incoming data.

Find out your own IP address in Windows 10

The router has two IP addresses: an internal and an external

Incidentally, your router itself even has two IP addresses: an internal IP address for your own home network and an external or public IP address for inquiries on the Internet. This is because the IP addresses on the Internet are limited under the IPv4 standard and IP addresses are also switched back and forth automatically, depending on which device needs one. The solution will later bring IPv6.

  • Find out my internal and external IP address
  • Change my internal IP address
  • Find IP and locate owner
Certain websites identify your location based on your external IP address. Picture: GIGA
Certain websites identify your location based on your external IP address. Picture: GIGA

Based on our example:

In the example above, your router could have the internal IP address Your internet provider gives your router a public IP address, e.g.

  1. So if the request comes from your own home network, your smartphone sends it to the internal IP address (your router).
  2. The router forwards the request under its external IP address to the server
  3. The server answers back to your router
  4. Your router responds with its internal IP address your smartphone

Conclusion: multiple IP addresses

A separate IP address system applies on the Internet, since the IP addresses are scarce there and are often changed when necessary. In the home network, the router uses its own IP address system, which usually begins with "192.xxx". Incidentally, a PC can also have several internal IP addresses if it has installed several network cards.

IP addresses: The difference between IPv4 and IPv6

Although the Internet protocol IPv6 already exists, data traffic on the Internet still runs largely over IPv4. Here are the key differences, advantages, and disadvantages:


  • IP addresses with IPv4 consist of up to 32 digits - example:
  • This results in more than 4 billion possible IP addresses for all devices on the Internet (4,294,967,296).
  • This is no longer enough these days, as more and more devices worldwide are Internet-enabled.
  • For this reason, IPv4 addresses are redistributed on the Internet as needed, for example, when one device is switched off, another receives its IP address.


  • IP addresses with IPv6 consist of up to 128 digits - example: 2001: 0db8: 85a3: 08d3:: 0370: 7344
  • So with IPv6 there are 340 sextillion possible IP addresses (340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).
  • This could give each Internet-enabled device its own, clearly identifiable IP address.
  • However, this would also limit privacy, because now every device can be clearly identified anytime and anywhere.

Conclusion: More anonymity with IPv4

In principle, anyone who uses IPv4 surfs significantly more anonymously, since the IP addresses cannot be traced back so clearly if the Internet provider has given you a different external IP address in the meantime.

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Robert Schanze
Robert Schanze

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