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Introduction to IP Addresses
You've just bought a new laptop, desktop, or mobile device and you can't wait to try it out. You click or select the option for a wireless connection and discover you have to enter in information that you never have before. Or perhaps you're using a new website or product that asks for the IP address of your computer.
What the heck is an IP address? Why would you need to know it? There are many reasons for a person to know what their IP address is, everything from setting up a wireless network to troubleshooting in the case there are problems. Here, we'll look at what an IP address, why you would need to know it, and how to find your IP address on your computer.
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What is an IP Address?
So what exactly is an IP address? Just like you have a home address and your business has an office address, your computer - and that of the billions that are also online - have their own special address so that people can find them. An IP address is usually given out by your ISP or Internet Service Provider.
When you sign up for service, the company sections off a portion of numbers in which you can use in order to access the Internet. There are two types of these addresses - static and dynamic. Static addresses are usually for companies or individuals who have a specified address in mind, while dynamic addresses are usually done automatically by either the router or that of the ISP. Most home and business computers will rely on what is called DHCP or dynamic host controlled protocol.
Most computers are in a certain class of IP addresses, usually begining in the 192.168 category.
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Why Do I Need to Know?
Why does someone need to know what their IP address is? Usually knowing how to find your IP address is done because you are adding a computer or wireless device to a network. For example, if you have a desktop computer and have just bought a laptop, you're laptop computer will mostly be running on a wireless network. This means that - if you don't have this already - you will need to purchase a wireless router in order to use the Internet wirelessly.
Having a router, and thus having wireless access, will require that you log on to your router. This is done by going to the set IP address. Another reason for knowing an IP address is when you are troubleshooting your computer. Perhaps you have set up your network or you have servers that run off your network, but you can't seem to get a signal for one. Knowing the IP address allows you to ping - or tap - a network's IP address to check if there is connectivity.
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How to Find Your IP Address
Curious on how to find your IP address? There are several ways to find the IP address for your network, but the easiest way is to use the command line interface if you are using a Windows operating system. This works with all current versions of Microsoft Windows.
- First, from your desktop, go to the START menu.
- Find the RUN option. XP users will find it on the bottom right hand side of the menu, while Vista and Windows 7 users can simply do a search or find it as well near the bottom.
- When the RUN text box opens, type in CMD. This stands for command line, which brings up the DOS command prompt interface. Again, Vista and Windows 7 users can simply type in cmd in the search area.
- When the command prompt opens and where the cursor begins to blink, type in IPCONFIG. This will bring up a simple listing of your computer network. For a more in depth look, type IPCONFIG /ALL to include all computers and addresses on the network.
- There may be two addresses - one is IPv4 and the other is IPv6. IPv4 is the most common version, however as more and more computers come on to the Internet, there are few of these left, hence why there is also the IPv6 (IP version 6) address.
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Knowing how to find your IP address is an important step, in both configuring a network and that of troubleshooting one. The most common way to find the IP address is by using the command prompt interface in Windows; other ways include going to Network Neighborhood (XP) or Network Settings, as well as system properties in Mac.
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University Information Technology Services, http://kb.iu.edu/data/aapa.html
Images via author, Windows 7 Pro