What is my IP Address?
What are IP Addresses?
IP Address is short for "Internet Protocol Address".
You can think of an IP Address a bit like phone number for your computer; it is a number that identifies any device that is connected to a network; although there are a few key differences between phone numbers and IP Addresses.
Devices such as computers (and smart phones or game consoles etc) can be linked up to other computers. This is called computer networking. Each computer that gets connected to a network is given a different IP address, so that each computer can be identified and communicated with individually.
When you link different computers together, a computer network is formed. You can have a computer network contained completely inside your home; in fact, if you have an internet connection at home that gets shared by all your different computers, laptops and ipods then you already have your own network!
In the case of most home and business networks (e.g. your office), all the different computers are joined on a private network. On the private network, each computer will have it's own "internal" IP Address, but externally, all the computers on that private network will appear to have the same IP Address.
So that's why if you load this webpage on two different computers on the same private network, it will show the same IP Address at the top: because they are coming from the same network, even though on the private network those two computers have different IP Addresses.
Can my IP Address reveal my physical location?
Essentially: yes. Your ISP knows exactly where you are (because they have your billing details linked to your IP Address), however to most other people, websites and organisations, IP Addresses can usually only reflect an approximate location (perhaps at a suburb level).
Can I hide my IP Address?
If you don't want web servers to be able to see which IP Address you are coming from, you can use a "Proxy" or a "VPN" service, which puts another network link in front of your computer; so that it seems like your traffic is coming out of a different location.
The VPN that you use will know your real IP Address but the assumption is that you trust your VPN provider. Using a VPN will not fix all your privacy or anonymity problems, but it is a good start.
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