We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Difference Between Public and Private IP Addresses?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Unique Internet Protocol addresses, better known as IP addresses, are used to identify every computer connected to a network, whether it is a private network, such as in a workplace, or the public network that is the World Wide Web. The IP addressing scheme makes it possible for computers to locate each other and exchange information. A public IP address is assigned to every computer that connects to the Internet, while private addresses are used to distinguish between computers on the same local area network (LAN). It's similar to the way phone numbers work within an office; there is usually one main business number for a company (the public IP address), while each employee may have a separate extension so that calls can be routed to the appropriate individual (the private IP address).

What Is an IP Address?

An IP address is a series of binary numbers that provide information about the network and the host (the computer or other device). These numbers are typically written as four numbers separated by dots in the older, IP Version 4 (IPv4) address numbering that is most common. Because the number of available addresses in the IPv4 format is limited and running out, a new numbering scheme called IPv6 was devised in the 1990s. In this format, IP addresses are written as eight groups of four letters and numbers separated by colons, although groups with zero value may be omitted. Private addresses are known as "local-use" in IPv6.

Public Addresses

Public IP addresses are those that allow any two computers to identify each other. When a person connects to the Internet, her computer is usually assigned an address from a pool that has been set aside for her Internet Service Provider (ISP) to use for its customers. When she types in a website address — like wisegeek.com — that domain name is converted into the IP address for the server that hosts the website. The server uses the computer's public IP address to know where to send the requested site page.

Private Addresses

When several computers or devices are connected to each other, either with cables or wirelessly, they can make up a private network. Each device within this network is assigned a different IP address in order to exchange files and share resources within the network. Although addresses must be unique within the private network, different private networks could all use the same addresses; since the computers in different networks don't directly communicate, it doesn't matter if they have the same address. A device called a network router passes data back and forth among the connected computers using the private IP addresses as identifiers.

The private network, or one of the computers in the network, usually connects to the Internet through a modem. The router or firewall within the network is assigned a public IP address by the Internet Service Provider (ISP); this single public IP address identifies the entire network on the Internet. Using a built-in device called a Network Address Translator (NAT), the router acts as a gatekeeper and passes requests from individual computer users to the Internet. Returning data is delivered back to the public IP address, with the router determining which private IP address requested the information.

Static and Dynamic

A public IP address can be static or dynamic. A static IP address does not change, and is used primarily for hosting websites or services on the Internet. Some gamers and people who use voice over IP (VOIP) regularly also prefer static IPs because it can make communication easier. A dynamic IP address is chosen from a pool of available addresses, and changes each time a given user connects to the Internet. Most computers have a dynamic public IP address, as it is the standard type of address that is assigned when a user uses the services of an ISP.

Finding a Computer's IP Address

There are many programs available online that allow users to see their computer’s assigned public IP addresses, or sometimes, those of other users. It is also possible to see private IP addresses by using the network router's configuration dialogs. Novice computer users may want to consult a network administrator or other professional before attempting to access or change the information in a network router.

Private Ranges

Within the range of publicly available IP addresses there are specific, excluded ranges withheld for private network use. In IPv4, the private IP ranges are as follows:

  • 10.0.0.0 ... 10.255.255.255
  • 172.16.0.0 ... 172.31.255.255
  • 192.168.0.0 ... 192.168.255.255

In IPv6, site-local addresses — the equivalent of IPv4 private addresses — begin with FE followed by C, D, E, or F. Another type, called link-local, does not have a comparison in IPv4 and is only used for special purposes on physical networks. These also begin with FE, followed by 8, 9, A, or B.

Who Coordinates IP Addresses?

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is responsible for overseeing the global allocation of IP numbers, among other related protocols. IANA, once an autonomous organization, now works under the oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is also the organization responsible for assigning and maintaining Internet domain names, such as those ending in .com and .org. IP addresses, domain names, and other identifiers simplify the complicated process of connecting computers with each other so they can readily exchange information.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon961467 — On Jul 17, 2014

Maybe my VPN is not working

By anon271335 — On May 26, 2012

Can I get a public ip address of an individual through a private ip address?

By anon269614 — On May 18, 2012

I was curious. Can you get somebody's physical house address and stuff from a private IP address? Can you 'unblock' a private ip?

I'm looking for a lost friend, but apparently, their ip is private. Can you help me find them?

By anon178865 — On May 22, 2011

since every host in a private network needs a public ip address to communicate to the internet, does my modem at home have a public ip address on it?

By anon151226 — On Feb 10, 2011

then we go for public ip address to access the system from outside with the help of routers. in this, routers can play the major role.

By anon68732 — On Mar 04, 2010

connect by using Team viewer the easy way or RDP.

By anon54144 — On Nov 27, 2009

i have dynamic ip form isp,and i implemented domain with iis (contains 1 webpage, html) but it is not connected to the internet wordwide. i want to convert my pc into web server. how can i?

By trigoTSR0007 — On Jun 18, 2009

if i am conn to a private network and use a dynamic public ip address that our ISP provides, how can i conn to my friend that is using a static ip address?? because we want to share files and information when i am in the office but we are on the same ISP.

By bunny143 — On Dec 18, 2008

I am now in one private network. I just want to run an application in one system and wants to access it from the outside. For that what are the requirements and what is the procedure?

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.