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How To Find Your Computer‘s IP Address and Maintain Your Privacy

Hi there! As you likely know, your computer‘s IP address acts like an identifier that allows communication over the internet. Similar to your home address, this unique number helps route information to the right location. However, IP addresses can also be used to gather concerning insights into your browsing history and patterns.

In this guide, I‘ll explain what an IP address is, the key differences between public and private IPs, how to find your computer‘s address, and steps you can take to protect your privacy. Let‘s get started!

Public vs Private IP Addresses

Your internet service provider (ISP) assigns two types of IP addresses – public and private. Here‘s an overview of how they differ:

Public IP Addresses

  • IPv4 is the current standard, while IPv6 is slowly emerging to handle IP scarcity
  • Dynamic public IPs that frequently change are common, but static IPs that persist can also be purchased
  • Your ISP allocates a public IP to your router, which all devices on your home network share
  • Public IPs can be tracked back to your ISP, city, and sometimes even your street address

Private IP Addresses

  • Allows direct communication between devices on the same network, like your laptop and printer
  • IP ranges are either 192.168.x.x, 172.16.x.x, or 10.x.x.x
  • Unique private IP automatically assigned to each device via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol)
  • Not exposed externally, so your private IP remains hidden from the wider internet

Now that you know the key differences, let‘s go over how to find your computer‘s current IP address.

Locating Your Public and Private IP Address

Finding your public and private IP addresses is simple if you know where to look on each operating system.

On Windows:

For your private IP:

  1. Open the Start menu and search for "Command Prompt"
  2. Type ipconfig in the prompt and press Enter
  3. Your IPv4 Address is your computer‘s private IP

For your public IP:

  1. Open Command Prompt as shown above
  2. Type nslookup
  3. The "Address" field shows your public IP

On Mac:

For either IP:

  1. Click the Apple icon and open System Preferences
  2. Go to Network > Advanced > TCP/IP
  3. You‘ll see both your Private and Public IP displayed

On Linux:

For your private IP:

  1. Open the Terminal app
  2. Type hostname -I and hit Enter
  3. Your private IP will be displayed

For your public IP:

  1. Type dig +short in Terminal
  2. Your computer‘s public IP will be shown

On Mobile:

For your public IP:

  1. Download an IP address tracking app from your device‘s app store
  2. The app will look up and display your current public IP address

Now that you know how to find your computer‘s IP address, let‘s go over some reasons you may want to hide or mask this information from certain entities online.

Why You Should Consider Masking Your IP Address

While required for connecting to the internet, your IP address can actually compromise your privacy in the following ways if exposed:

  • Your ISP can track every website and service you use – Most sell anonymized browsing data to advertisers.
  • Websites you visit can learn your location – To within about a 25 mile radius in urban areas.
  • Governments implement IP blocking – To censor access to certain sites and content.
  • Hackers can more easily target exploits – If they know your IP address range from your ISP.

According to one 2021 survey, over 80% of Americans express concern over the privacy of their online data. Here are two common tools used to hide IP addresses:

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

  • Encrypts data and masks your IP address by routing traffic through remote servers
  • Monthly paid plans from $5-15/month, or free limited options available
  • Access blocked content and increased anonymity for public WiFi usage

Proxy Servers

  • Acts as an intermediary that forwards your requests under its IP instead of your own
  • Typically free, but can be slower than VPNs for streaming and downloads
  • Lets you bypass geographic blocks on content, but VPNs offer more robust privacy
VPN Proxy
Cost Paid plans, some free options Usually free
Speed Fast, ideal for streaming Can be slow for media
Anonymity Completely hides your IP IP still visible to sites you visit directly
Setup Install on device Browser extension or config settings

Now that you understand the tools available, you can better secure your online privacy.

Final Thoughts

I hope this overview has helped explain the function of IP addresses and how to find yours in Windows, Mac, Linux, or mobile. While required for internet connectivity, your IP can also be leveraged to gather insights into your browsing patterns without your consent. Consider a trusted VPN or proxy if you want to maintain privacy, access restricted content, or alternate geo-blocked sites. Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions!


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.