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A lot of my students have been asking me what IP addresses are, and why they are important. After giving them the 411, I realized that a lot of my faculty members were similarly unaware of the purpose of these numbers! So, I figured I’d share the info with all of you – here’s an introduction to IP addresses.

What is an IP address?
An IP address is basically a number that is exclusive to your online device. Each device that accesses the internet has its own IP address, and uses this to identify and communicate with other online devices. Think of it like a mailing address: you can’t send information or receive information unless you have an address for the sender and the receiver. Similarly, IP addresses function as designations for sending and receiving information.

How do I get an IP address?
IP addresses are typically assigned to your devices by your internet service provider.

How can I check what my IP address is?
You can simply type in “what’s my IP address” into Google and it will spit out your address. Or, you can visit sites like  What’s My IP.

Why do I need to know my IP?
Knowing your IP address is important if you need to get technical support, do a lot of online gaming, or are setting up any kind of server at home. It is basically your identification for your device.

Can someone with my IP figure out where I live?
Most IP trackers are not that sophisticated – thank god. Usually all you can find out from someone’s IP address is what city they reside in, nothing more.

How many IP addresses are there in the world?
The estimated number of unique addresses is 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456.

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