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What Is My Public IP Address?

A public IP address is the distinctive address assigned to your home or business router by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It's the IP address that makes your network hardware, like your home router or a server hosting a website, accessible to the public.

Both home routers and servers are connected to the broader internet, which is why they each have a unique public IP address, also referred to as an external IP address. These IP addresses serve as the digital fingerprints of your location, allowing your ISP to direct internet requests to your specific home or business. The uniqueness of these addresses ensures that only you receive your digital requests, preventing mix-ups with others.

My Public IP Address vs. My Private IP Address

A private IP address, while sharing similarities with a public IP address, is a unique identifier assigned to each device within your network that's situated behind a router. In your home network, every individual device possesses its private IP address. Meanwhile, the router connecting them all to the internet boasts a public IP address. Private IP addresses, as the name suggests, are reserved for private, internal use and aren't accessible from the wider internet. To make these private devices accessible to the outside world, they rely on a public address. This setup allows devices in your neighbor's home to have identical private IPs as yours, while the public IP addresses in both locations, as well as everywhere else, remain distinct.

How to Conceal Your Public IP Address

Your public IP address is, by nature, public since it's your gateway to the internet. This means that any website you visit or online activity you engage in is associated with this address. While your IP address safeguards your devices, it doesn't necessarily protect your network, leaving it susceptible to prying eyes. The most straightforward method to conceal your IP address involves the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN establishes a secure connection from your network to a VPN service, effectively substituting its address as your public IP.

Comparing IPv4 and IPv6

IPv4, a widely used internet protocol, employs a 32-bit address format to connect devices. This scheme offers more than 4 billion unique addresses. However, as the number of internet-connected devices worldwide continues to surge, the available IPv4 addresses are depleting rapidly. To address this challenge, IPv6 was developed to meet the increasing demand for internet addresses. It's often described as the "next generation" of internet standards, building upon the foundation of IPv4.

In IPv4, addresses consist of a 32-bit numerical format represented in decimal notation, comprising four numbers separated by periods. Each of these numbers ranges from 0 to 255. For example, an IPv4 address may appear as Conversely, IPv6 utilizes 128-bit addresses written in hexadecimal format and separated by colons. An example of an IPv6 address is 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334.

This transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is driven by the need for a larger address space to accommodate the ever-growing multitude of internet-connected devices.