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What Is IP Address and How To Find External and Internal IP Address?

Rinus Reuvekamp

In order to understand how you can be able to find your external IP address, it’s important to first understand what IP address is.  But, the big question after all is -- why do you need to know your external IP address? Well, the first and foremost reason to track an external IP address is -- protection of your privacy and safeguarding of crucial data from your competitors or at best hackers. The second reason and quite an obvious one is -- you can easily track emails and other information that might relate to your  company or your website’s URL. It’s an IP address which enables routing of messages from one computer to another over the internet. 
So, let’s understand what this IP address is. 

IP Address: What Is It?

For all purposes, an IP address is like a phone number and a numeric identifier. All computers which are connected over the internet has a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. This IP address allows the user to browse the web or access other online services. Also, anytime that your web browser requests for a webpage, your IP address is sent along with it. This happens because your ISP wants to know who among his customers are requesting for a particular webpage. 

In case of all home office computers, the external IP address is assigned by the Internet Service Provider whereas in case of corporate businesses, it is assigned by the company’s network when many computers connect to the Internet through a proxy.    

Now, for a better understanding of IP addresses, it would be advisable to also understand the difference between an internal IP address and external IP address.  

IP Address: The Difference Between External and Internal 

In home networks where you generally make use of routers to have internet, you have both an internal and external IP address.

Your internal IP address is that by which your home router connects to all other devices, in other words, it handles all the data packets coming in and going out of your home network. An excellent example to illustrate this would be a telecaller who takes inbound marketing calls and if the need be, he would forward your calls to the concerned person in some other department. The external IP address would be more like you calling a corporate phone number and when this external IP address is how you are found by other devices over the internet. 

External (Public) IP Address

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns you an external IP address when you connect to the Internet. When your web browser requests a webpage, it sends this IP address along with it. Your ISP uses this to know which of its customers are requesting which webpage. Also, any website that you visit will have access to this IP address.

Every website also has an IP address of its own, though you never need to know them. When you type in the domain name, such as "www.google.com", a Domain Name Server (DNS) looks up the IP address for you, which is the real location of the website. In this way, domain names are like human-friendly names pointing to machine-friendly IP addresses.

In a nutshell, your IP address is traceable up to city, state and ISP.

Now, let’s move straight on to our core subject of discussion -- How to find your external or internal IP address?

Typically, there are two ways of finding an IP address -- through online tools (web-based IP address reporting tool) and the command line interface of your OS (Operating System).

External IP Address: How To Find It By Using the Web?

To find your external IP address, all you need to do is visit the website -- 

https://ipaddressdetails.com and you may be able to see your external or public IP address, either in the address bar or at the center of the landing page, in the following format.  

On this website, you can also be able to find other finer details such as the OS (Operating System) and the device to which this ip address belongs. Other trivial information such as the name of the ISP, the hostname, the place and time zone etc. can also be found. 

The website https://ipaddressdetails.com is a ready reckoner for an IP address lookup, is informative and reliable.      

Internal IP Address: How To Find It By Using The Command Prompt? 

For Windows 

You must press the Windows key + R. Next, in the Run command, type -- cmd and then press Enter.  When the command screen opens up, type “ipconfig/all” and then press Enter

For MacOS

There are two ways by which you can find your private/local/internal IP address.

Method 1. 

  • Click on the Application folder.
  • Then, click on Utilities and then Terminal. 
  • Execute the ifconfig command.  

If you find using command prompt difficult, you may alternatively try method 2 provided here.   

Method 2. 

  • Go to the Apple menu and click on System Preferences.
  • Then, click on Network under System preferences and select the connection you are using. The connection you are using could be AirPort (wireless) or Ethernet (wired).  
  • Once you see that you Mac is in ‘Connected’ status, you can view the IP address on the top right corner of the menu.   

For Linux

In case of Linux, press ctrl key + alt key + T. When you see the terminal window, type “hostname-I” (I stands for capital I) and then press Enter.   

In Conclusion 

Though there are several other methods of looking up an IP address, the aforementioned are the most commonly used methods and easy ones. Please also know that you can also find IP address in Gmail or in Android and iOS.