Public IP Address

A public IP address is provided by a user’s Internet service provider and connects the user’s computer network to the Internet. A public IP address is unique to a particular user. Private IP addresses, on the other hand, do not connect a device to the Internet, but rather to the very local network through which the devices all connect to each other. Private IP addresses may have to be shared because they are distributed among devices on a network.

Public IP addresses for individual users and home computer networks are dynamic. This means that they may change at different times. Dynamic IP addresses are less likely to be hacked because an attacker has less time to guess them. They also make moving easier because an individual user’s IP address can easily reconfigure. Static IP addresses are assigned to businesses and are more expensive than dynamic ones. Static IP addresses allow users to always access the business’s network without the extra time that a changing IP address would require; requesting IP addresses from DNS servers slows web sessions.

A user’s public IP address is visible to their Internet service provider (in fact, it’s often provided by them). This allows the ISP to monitor all the traffic from that IP address. Web browsers and businesses can see public IP addresses, too, and can track their customers’ data and locations through that information.

Internet protocol versions 4 and 6 support 32-bit IP addresses, but IPv6 introduced 128-bit addresses. This means that more unique addresses are available, which is important because the influx of new devices could have eventually used up all the available IP addresses under IPv4.

Using a VPN to hide your IP address

When you use your computer network to access the Internet, browsers and websites can see your public IP address. If you want this to remain hidden from them, you can implement a virtual private network. A VPN bypasses a public network and creates a separate secure tunnel between your device and the website you’re accessing. A VPN assigns users a different IP address than their public one. When Google, or any other search engine, or businesses’ websites track your IP address, they will see the assigned one from the VPN. This prevents those companies from tracking your personal data or location.

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a contributor for websites such as and Enterprise Storage Forum. She writes about information technology security, networking, and data storage. Jenna lives in Nashville, TN.

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