‘What is my IP?’: Here’s what an IP address does, and how to find yours

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It should only take a second to find your IP address. Sarah Waiswa/Getty Images

  • An IP address (also known as an Internet Protocol address) is a short code that identifies your computer or device when you go online.
  • Your IP address is public to any website that you visit, although it doesn’t carry any personal information about you, other than your city or state.
  • You can find your IP address with a simple Google search, or hide it with a VPN program.
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In most cases, you’ll never need to know your IP address. It simply exists in the background, helping you browse the internet.

Your IP address – short for Internet Protocol address – is like the return address on an envelope. As you browse the internet, your IP address tells sites who they should send their data to. It identifies your computer amongst the sea of other users.

Read on for more information about what data your IP address shares, as well as how to hide or find it.

What you should know about your IP address

Generally speaking, your IP address is public and can be used by others to find out where you (or your device) is located.

However, you shouldn’t worry that strangers might be able to discover personal information about you simply by knowing your IP address. While the address might say that your computer is located in a particular city or state, it can’t reveal your name, address, phone number, or other identifying information.

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Your IP address only points out your very general location, and can be changed manually. Jennifer Still/Business Insider

That being said, it is possible to anonymize yourself completely and change your IP address by using a VPN service, or a virtual private network.

A VPN service edits your IP address to trick websites into thinking you’re located somewhere that you’re not. This is helpful for accessing foreign versions of websites, for example.

Many proponents of VPN services also believe they provide optimum security and privacy while surfing the web.

If you’re curious to know what your current IP address is, you can find this out by using Google. Simply search “what is my IP” on Google. Your public IP address will be displayed at the top of the page.

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Google will tell you your IP address for free. Jennifer Still/Business Insider

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