August 24, 2016

What's an IP Address?

GoGuardian Team
A person typing on a laptop next to a stack of books

An IP address is a method of identifying devices, like laptops or Chromebooks, and distinguishing them from one another. Like the street address of a business or a house, an IP address lets websites and servers know where to send information so that your laptop or Chromebook can display it.

IP stands for Internet Protocol, and each IP address is a series of four sets of numbers that are separated by periods. IP addresses usually look something like this:

Or like this:

The Difference Between Internal and External IP Addresses

Although there are several different types of IP addresses, the most important thing to understand is that there are internal (also called private) and external (also called public) IP addresses.

Most devices, like Chromebooks, computers, and mobile phones, will have both an internal and external IP address. One way to think of the relationship between internal and external IP addresses is like a hotel with a number of rooms available to rent. The hotel has a street address, as well as a series of numbered rooms. The street address of the hotel is analogous to a network’s external IP address; it represents the public location of the hotel. Individual, numbered rooms are analogous to a network’s internal IP address, and represent the private locations of each room within the hotel, and their assignments are not visible to the world outside of the hotel.

External IP addresses are globally unique. Like the mailing address of a hotel, an external IP addresses is unique to a device (like the modem or router that connects your school to the Internet), and no two devices can have the same address. The external IP address of your school is different from all other schools and network devices. External IP addresses are most often assigned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Like the number identifying a hotel room, internal IP addresses are unique to individual devices inside of a network, but are not globally unique. A very common internal IP address is Only one device on your school’s network can have the internal IP address at a time, but a different device on a different school’s network could also have the internal IP address of—just like how many different hotels can be room 101.

Unlike external IP addresses, internal IP addresses all fall within the same set of potential ranges: - - -

How Can I Find My IP Address?

External IP Address: finding your external IP address is easy. Just search Google for IP address, and the first result should look like this:

google ip address

Internal IP Address: finding your internal IP address is pretty easy too, although the process is different for Windows and Mac users.

Find Your Internal Windows IP Address

  1. Click the Start button, and then click Run.
  2. Type cmd to open a Command Prompt window.
  3. Type in ipconfig, and then press enter.
  4. Look for the line that begins with, ‘IPv4 Address:’. The number after the colon is your internal IP address.

Find Your Mac Internal IP Address

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences …
  3. Click Network
  4. The Status area will tell you your internal IP address.

What Determines My IP Address?

Internal and external IP addresses are assigned differently:

Your external IP address is assigned by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), which itself is assigned large blocks of addresses by ICANN. ICANN, or International Corporation for Names and Numbers, is an American company that is responsible for assigning IP addresses to ISPs, nations, and other groups.

Your internal IP address is determined by your network’s router.

When Will I Need to Know My IP Address?

Generally speaking, it isn’t important to know what your IP address is. Most applications that need to know what either of your IP addresses are can see it and will make use of them automatically. However, there are some games and applications that have a difficult time sending information to your computer instead of just to your router, and often, gaming consoles like Playstation 4 and XBOX 1 will have lower game latency if ports are forwarded to them.

Do I Need to Know My IP Address for GoGuardian Admin?

You will need to know your school’s external IP address only if you want web activity monitoring and/or filtering to take place outside of school networks.