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What is an IP Address and How Do I Find It?

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Illustration of coworkers at computers with IP addresses

If you’re in charge of maintaining the office network or configuring devices to wirelessly present around your workplace, you need to know what internet protocol (IP) addresses are and how they impact devices on your network.

What is an IP address? How do IP addresses work? Why do you need to know about them?

Pull up a chair. We covered the basics for you.

What is an IP address?

An IP address is simply a number that identifies a specific point of entry for data in a network. It allows the internet to know where to send information.

IP addresses work in tandem with MAC addresses to properly identify devices and ensure those devices can communicate with the network and with each other.

Here are a few example IP addresses:

192.168.32.170

2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0202:8a2e:0370:8329

2001:db8:85a3::8a2e:370:7348

How do IP addresses work?

Your internet service provider (ISP) assigns a unique IP address to your home or office network. Businesses often divide their networks into multiple, smaller segments, called subnets.

In addition to your network having an IP address, every device connected to the network, such as your work laptop or personal iPad, also has an IP address. When your device is online, the network needs to know where to send information your device has requested. Your IP address tells the network exactly where your device is, giving the requested information its final destination.

Illustrated diagram of IP addresses from ISP, office and home

What are the various numbers in an IP address?

Data travels to your device correctly because of the way IP addresses function. IP addresses contain two main parts: a network ID and a host ID.

The network ID tells the internet which network it should deliver data to (like your corporate office). The host ID identifies which specific device on that network it should deliver to (like your work laptop).

Here’s an example:

Say the IP address of your computer at work is 192.168.32.170. The network ID of this IP address is 192.168.32.0. The host ID is 170.

Illustrated diagram of Network ID and Host ID

The IP address of your device can change

The IP address of your computer at work may be different from the IP address of that exact same computer at your home. This is because the network you are on has changed. You went from your work network to your home network, giving your computer a different IP address.

Why IP addresses matter

Imagine you’re in a meeting and you need to wirelessly present to the big screen. You know you can quickly accomplish this task with a wireless presentation software called Ditto, so you enter goditto.com into a web browser on your computer.

A few things must happen before you get there.

Your computer requests data from the website goditto.com. IP addresses help distinguish what device is making the request and where to direct the request. On the flip side, they also distinguish where to send the requested data to get back to your computer.

By identifying your office’s network (192.168.32) and your computer on that network (170), servers deliver the appropriate data from goditto.com to your computer so you can access the website. This all happens in an instant.

From there, you’re able to wirelessly present and the meeting goes off without a hitch. This is all thanks to the work done behind the scenes with networks and IP addresses.

How do I find my IP address?

Learn how you can find the IP address for each device type below:

  • Windows 10

    • Click the network icon in the bottom-right of the screen near the clock.
    • Click “Properties” to open the network properties.
    • Locate the IP address under the network information.
  • Windows 8

    • Press the Windows key on your keyboard then type "settings" into your search bar.
    • Select PC settings.
    • Select “Network” from the menu on the left side of the window.
    • Select "Connections" and then "wifi."
    • Select your network.
    • Locate the IP address in the Properties section.
  • Windows 7

    • Click the network icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen near the clock.
    • Click "Open Network" and "Sharing Center."
    • Click your network name.
    • Click "Details."
    • Locate the IP address in this window.
  • macOS

    • Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen and select "System Preferences."
    • In the System Preferences window, select "Network."
    • Select the network you’re currently on in the left menu.
    • Locate the IP address in the Status section.
  • Apple TV

    • Choose Settings > General > About.
    • The IP address will be listed on this screen.

Why do I need to know my IP address?

If you’re configuring a device to access your network, you’ll need to know its IP address. Data needs to know which internet-connected device it’s reaching. Otherwise, your devices won’t be able to access the internet or communicate with each other.

You’ll also need to know your IP address for a variety of technical processes, such as enabling remote desktop functionality, determining subnet masks or troubleshooting network failures.

Screen mirroring software like Ditto requires IP addresses for wireless receivers to display content. If you want to untether from cables and present wirelessly throughout your workplace, Ditto makes it easy. Start presenting effortlessly today.

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