What is an IP address?

The IP address of our computer is essential for websites to know where to send their data. However, can someone find our physical location only through our IP address?

Here is what we will cover in this article:

  • What is an IP address?
  • Ipv4 addresses
  • Ipv6 addresses
  • How is the IP address used when accessing a webpage?
  • What does the IP reveal about us?
  • What is an IP address?
  • Who manages and distributes the IP addresses?

It is an address from which your computer sends and receives data. To simplify, you can imagine IP addresses as home addresses for the Internet.

IP means the Internet Protocol, and consists of a string of different characters, constitution, and length, depending on whether we are talking about IPv4 (version 4 of the protocol) or IPv6 (version 6 of the protocol).


We will start by talking about IPv4 because this way, you will understand easier why IPv6 exists.

An IP address is, in the case of IPv4, a series of numbers, consisting of 4 groups of one to three digits, ranging from 0 to 254. An Ip, in this version (Ipv4), looks like this:

The IP address can be local (IP LAN) or public when we talk about IP Wan. The IP address is, to put it very simply, the “name” of the computer that a device connected to a network will have. When we think in terms of local area network, we are talking about LAN, and when we think in terms of the Internet we are talking about IP WAN.

The WAN IP must be unique. You will not have the same IP as your neighbor, for example. It’s the same on your local network, all devices connected to the network must have a different IP. However, devices on different networks may have the same IP.

To make it simple, we could summarize this by making an analogy with home addresses. Home addresses are unique if we consider the street number, street name, city, and postal code. This way you can identify a specific person/address in a town with thousands of residences. By contrast, Lan IP can be explained with the following analogy: you can live in an apartment building at flat number 6. Someone else might live at a different apartment building but also at flat number 6.



However, there is a problem with IPv4, which is very simple to understand: IPv4 offers smaller amounts of combinations for the number of devices in the world, so we had to look at how we call them.

IPv6 is the same as IPv4 but has a different structure. This time it is a hexadecimal script in which a colon separates each group (:). An IPv6 address might look like this, for example: 2001: db8: 0: 85a3: 0: 0: ac1f: 8001.

With IPv6, the number of possible and almost unlimited addresses. It would be impossible to have so many devices in the world to run out of IPv6 addresses, therefore, this issue of scarcity is resolved.


How is the IP address used when accessing a webpage?

Our computer requests to display a specific web page by sending “data packets” to the IP address of the server hosting that web page.

The website then sends its content back to our computer using the IP address of our computer (from which the server received the „data packets”).

What does the IP reveal about us?

Although the IP looks like a random string of characters, using some online IP Lookup services, you can find some details about an IP address. Using https://whatismyipaddress.com/, you can find out the ISP (Internet Service Provider), any known services running on that IP,  country, region and city of an IP address, the latitude and longitude of the location (the best guess), the area code for that region.

You cannot get from an IP address more in-depth information such as the name of the person’s using the computer, the exact street address, phone number, or email address.

Who manages and distributes the IP addresses?

IANA (short for Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) manages the Internet Protocol (IP) address pool, which is formed of large blocks of addresses. There are five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) that  distributes these blocks of addresses:

  • AfriNIC – African region
  • APNIC – Asia Pacific region
  • ARIN – North America and several Caribbean and North Atlantic islands
  • LACNIC – Latin America and the Caribbean
  • RIPE NCC – Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Central Asia


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