What is a Private IP Address? Private vs. Public IP Address

If you’ve stumbled upon static numbers such as 192.168.0.1 or 10.0.0.1 and trying to get your head around it, you're at the right place to understand the concept of an IP address.

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What’s an IP Address?

An Internet Protocol address, commonly known as an IP address, is a unique numeric address that is assigned to every single device that requires the internet such as a computer, printer, smart switches, internet routers or any other device that is part of the internet network.

Think of an IP address as the fuel that powers the car; without this fuel; you won’t be able to get around. Since IP addresses are coherent in nature, they can change. Without an IP address, you’re practically off the grid.

What’s a Private IP Address?

A private IP address is specifically assigned to a device in a controlled network and is not easily accessible on the wide internet. With a private IP address, all devices assigned that particular private IP will be able to communicate with each other.

To make matters easier, let’s take an example of the devices connected on your home network. As part of the modern technological era, you certainly have a smartphone, and maybe a desktop computer or a laptop, and all of these devices connect to the internet through your home’s central router.

To make matters easier, let’s take an example of the devices connected on your home network. As part of the modern technological era, you certainly have a smartphone, and maybe a desktop computer or a laptop, and all of these devices connect to the internet through your home’s central router.

You may ask, what’s the point of having a public IP and a private IP? Interesting question. The devices connected on your home network can conveniently communicate with each other using their private IP address. Whereas, the router will use the assigned public IP address to assist communication with the rest of the world via the internet.

It goes without saying that when connecting to the internet, your private IP addresses will remain concealed, and only the routers public IP address is visible.

In essence, a private IP address is a stay-at-home non-Internet facing IP address on an in-house network. This means that network devices, such as routers assign private IP addresses.

What’s the Need of a Private IP Address?

When a public IP address is the only way of connecting to the internet, why does one need a private IP? One, for internal devices to communicate with each other, for example, you sent a page from your smartphone to print on your printer. Two, private IPs don’t take up a public IP address space.

Just like there’s a limited supply of fresh drinking water, the concept of IPs works in a similar way. With a limited amount of IPs, private IPs make way for public IPs so that more and more internet networks can be installed without compromising on the availability.

Let’s take an example to understand better. Say that you have a regular router on a home network. Nearly all routers in homes and offices around the world have a similar IP address structure such as 192.168.1.1, and they further assign 192.168.1.2, 192.168.1.3, 192.168.1.4 so on and so forth to a multiple number of devices connected to the router.

You may ask, won’t the private IPs coincide with IPs of other networks? In short, no, as it doesn't make a difference in how many routers use the same, 192.168.1.1 address. Dozens of devices could be connected inside that particular network and share the same IP address with users of other networks as they aren't interacting with each other directly.

Alternatively, the devices with private IPs assigned by the router use the router’s public IP address to interpret their requests and help facilitate communication with other public IP addresses and ultimately the ability to interact with their devices.

Think of it this way, you’re reading this with the help of your device’s private IP as the device, (a laptop, smartphone, or any other), requested this page through a public IP, a router, and then landed you here.

Internet-enabled devices such as laptops, computer desktops, smartphones, tablets, and others that function within private networks around the world can use a private IP address with nearly no restriction, which isn’t the case for public IP addresses.

Private IP addresses also provide a way for devices that don't need contact with the internet, like file servers, printers, etc., to still communicate with the other devices on a network without being directly exposed to the public.

How to Find Your Private IP Address

Typically, trying to figure out your private IP address is something that people in offices are accustomed to, but individuals may find the need for that as well.

Network administrators need your private IP so that they can connect to your laptop and make any changes or updates if necessary. Here’s how to find your private IP address:

  • Press Win + R and type cmd into the field.
  • Press Enter to open the Command Prompt.
  • Type ipconfig and press Enter. You’ll see a list information regarding your network connection.
  • What you’re looking for is called the IPv4 Address. The IP address is four sets of figures, with up to three numbers per set. For example, it might look like 192.168.1.4

That’s all. Now that you’ve got it figured out, you know how easy it was to understand the concept and function of private IP addresses.