What is an IP address?
Simply put, an IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique number that gets linked to your online activity. Whether you are checking emails, engaged in social media or shopping, you are requesting access to some destination. Your IP address helps in this process. It routes all of your online requests making sure they are returned to you appropriately. Basically, it is the way your computer is found on the internet.
Noggin Nugget: A URL is a readable label for your IP address. Because the internet is based on IP addresses and not domain names, every web server translates domain names into IP addresses.
Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses
There are two types of IP addresses; static and dynamic. Static IP addresses do not change. These are typically used by businesses with large networks so that they do not have to track changing IP addresses. A static IP address would matter in the case of external websites needing to remember your IP address; such as a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that only trusts certain IP addresses for security purposes. Dynamic IP addresses allow ISP's to change your IP address if needed. This is what most devices use. Let's say you are working at home and you are connected to the internet through your router. You will be assigned an IP address for that location. If you take your laptop on the road, maybe to a coffee shop or hotel, you will connect to their WIFI and be assigned a new IP address by that locations' ISP. By changing ISP's you are also changing IP addresses. It all happens behind the scenes without you even having to think about it.
Public vs. Private IP Addresses
Public IP addresses are for devices accessible on the internet. Private IP addresses are the addresses used for identification of a device within a network. They are not valid on the internet. Security measures such as firewalls can be put in place to protect the IP address from cyber attacks and hackers.
If all that seems a bit confusing, think about it this way...
Public vs Private describes where the addresses are valid. Static vs Dynamic describes how they are assigned.
A great example of a static, private IP address would be Allegro's tightly integrated eCommerce solution, OneSource ERP. The e-commerce website communicates via web services to pull data from the customers ERP. Access to the web services is protected by an IP address. This example demonstrates why IP addresses matter. If your IP address changes, communication to and from the website and ERP is disrupted. The ERP will not accept customer data and orders from the eCommerce store. Luckily for Allegro's OneSource ERP customers, orders will queue up and transfer again once the issue of IP address is resolved.
What's the easiest way to check your IP address?