What is a Private IP Address?

All computers connecting to the Internet will receive a unique IP address. Similar to a phone number, this unique IP address allows computers to locate other devices on the network. There are two kinds of IP addresses—a private and a public IP address. To get a computer’s IP address, a My IP Address Tool may be used.

My IP Address Tool Functions

Some users may think that a My IP Address Tool can only get the public IP address of a computer. Others can also display the private IP address of a device, usually using apps that users can download to the requesting computer.

Asking a My IP Address Tool to get the private IP address of a home computer will usually show it in the format 10.x.x.x, 172.x.x.x, or 192.168.x.x, where x could be one to three digit numbers. These numbers shown by a My IP Address Tool is what we refer to as a private IP address. Running the same My IP Address Tool on an office computer will most likely result to a similar IP address format. Similarly, asking a My IP Address Tool from a mobile device connected to Wi-Fi will yield the same IP address format.

private IP address

A private IP address, as the name implies, is a number that points to a specific computer, but is unique only within a private network. This means that a connected computer in an office network could have a IP address and a laptop at home may have the same192.168.1.2 IP address. When this happens, the My IP Address Tool will not show a wrong IP address. IP addresses are finite numbers. Employing private IP addresses will allow networks to reuse IP addresses; thereby, allowing more devices to connect to the Internet.

How does My IP Address Tool works?

When a My IP Address Tool reports a private IP address, it does not return the public IP address from the Internet Service Provider (ISP). What the My IP Address Tool shows is the IP address as given by the local network router. The router is a device that directly connects to the ISP.

router and isp

Turning on the router will trigger the ISP to assign a unique public IP address to the router. In turn, this router will allow devices in a private network, like home or offices, to connect to it. Since only one public IP address is given, the router generates a unique private IP address for each device that tries to connect to the router. This allows more computers to connect to the Internet using only a single public IP address.

Routers have the option of assigning dynamic private IP addresses or accepting a static private IP address. Dynamic IP addresses allow users to connect to a router without worrying about IP address conflicts within the same network. Two or more devices with the same IP addresses can confuse other devices that try to connect since they would not have a unique way of identifying the target device.

The dynamic private IP address on a device could change each time the device is off for some time and turned on. If the device disconnects and another device tries to connect to the same router, the new device may get the same IP address as the former. When the former device tries to reconnect, it will then get a new IP address.

Users can try this by running a My IP Address Tool and noting the initial IP address, then reconnecting a few hours or days later on a widely used Wi-Fi router. A public Wi-Fi can give you a different IP address after running My IP Address Tool the second time.