Finding my IP address

My IP address is :

What is an IP address?

Every computer connected to a network is assigned an IP address, which is a numeric identifier for this network (for example:

Just like a postal address, this IP address allows a computer to send a package (an information packet) to a specific audience (a computer, a network printer..)

What is the IP protocol?

When multiple computers are connected together over a network, they can exchange electronic information with each other using a Network protocol. A network protocol defines how information is exchanged (the size, the content, if it comes in multiple packages or in a single package...)

The low-level protocol used on the Internet today is the IP protocol (IP stands for "Internet Protocol")

As for sending a simple email, the IP protocol does not guarantee the delivery of the information.

Fortunately, another network protocol (TCP), which uses IP, guarantees the delivery of information. It’s like sending something requiring an acknowledgment of receipt.

My IP address is a unique identifier on the Internet?

When a user browses a website, your computer connects to the Web server hosting the site (by its IP address)

It is tempting to believe that on the Internet (the network of networks), the IP address is a unique and reliable identifier.

In practice this is not true. Here are 2 examples:

  • in a small business, a single Internet access point (a Livebox, Freebox...) is often shared by employees. All the computers of the employees indicate the same IP address (that of the box) when accessing websites on the Internet
  • some large ISPs (Orange, Free ...) sometimes have more clients than IP addresses that have been assigned to them. In this case, they include multiple users on the same IP addresses. They use other ways than the IP to reroute information to the right person.

Therefore, you cannot actually use the IP address as a reliable means to track users in general.

The only exception is when any of you wants to identify a specific user who has obtained from its host a static IP address (it is so called because it does not change at all). In this case, the IP address really identifies the specific user.

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