Main Differences Between Public And Private IP Address

Many of you have heard of the term IP address and if you are an addictive internet user, you probably know which your IP address is right now. However, did you know that there are two main types of IP addresses and the fact they are completely different? The two types are private and public and today, we will analyze and reveal the main differences between the two.

Differences Between Public And Private IP Address
Differences Between Public And Private IP Address | Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

What is an IP address?

IP stands for Internet Protocol, and it is a long numerical code that is assigned to every device connecting to the internet. The purpose of the IP address is to identify the network interface and to localize the addressing. Your computer and your smartphone have an IP address which is unique.

Using the IP address, you can discover the location of the device anywhere in the world. However, this all applies to the public IP addresses which will be discussed more later on.

Understand public IP address

Public IP address is more common and better-known of the two. It is the address that is assigned to each device that is connected to the internet. Each one is unique, and it can be assigned to one device only.

Each server and internet provider, in general, have their combination of the public IP address that is assigned to one user. Each device has a variation of that IP address. You can check yours if you type My IP address in Google or use free services online.

One of the main facts of the public IP address is the targeting to the global functionality. It is used to allow you to communicate outside any private network. For example, you will use your IP address if you want to connect to the internet and visit a website.

This type of address is controlled by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and also Internet Service Providers (ISPs). IANA is an organization responsible for assigning the public IP addresses to countries, organizations and more. Internet Service providers assign the public IP address to their users.

All public IP addresses are designed to work using the internet and they are not free. You will need to have a monthly subscription of an internet package to get the public IP address. If you change the internet provider, the IP address will be changed as well. Other methods you can use to mask or change the IP address include various software (many do not work) or to use VPN (virtual private network). In that case scenario, nobody will be able to see your public IP address.

Understanding the private IP address

Private IP address is actually completely different type and rarely used by average users. It is used to create a private network. An interesting fact is that your home computer has a private IP address. But, if you want to use that computer to connect to the internet, it will use routers UIP address (public) to do the thing.

In most cases, a private IP address is assigned to a device part of a private network. The best example is a company which has a dozen computers. They are in on the network and each one has a private IP address and they can communicate between but they cannot communicate to the internet using the private IP address.

Some facts that can help you understand the private IP address better are the facts this is local-based IP address. In other words, it is designed to be used not globally like for the internet but inside a home, company or similar. This IP address is complicatedly free and you can use it indefinitely without any subscriptions or anything similar.

However, private IP address can be used via LAN only. LAN stands for local area network and if you are a gamer, you probably know what this means. You will need LAN cable to connect the two or more devices and when that happens, you will see that each device gets a private IP address which is unique by the way.

To check for a private IP address, you can open the command prompt in any Windows operating system and type ‘’ ipconfig’’. You cannot use the internet to find out the details about your private IP address.

Practical applications of the public and private IP addresses

If you are an ordinary internet user, all you have to remember is that your IP address is public and you can check it out using Google for instance. This IP address is unique to your device and your service provider. You need a public IP address to connect to the internet and surf. Keep in mind that authorities can track your address if it is involved in illegal operations. That IP address will lead them directly to your home. But, to do that you will need to be a hacker or as aforementioned a government official. Although you can check the public IP address quickly, others cannot do it!

You will need a private IP address if you want to create a private network. The best example is a gaming purpose in which 2 or more computers are connected via LAN cable and used for gaming. They can connect to the internet, but they will use a public IP address from the router. The private IP address is used only when these computers communicate in the private network. It is mandatory to add that third parties cannot access your private network. It is a closed network and as such operates only between the allowed and connected devices using LAN cable.


Although all of this sounds complicated, you can deduce the differences. What we can add to clarify the things is that private IP address is used when you connect 2 or more PCs via LAN cable. It is used to distinguish the computers in the network. A public IP address is assigned to you by the internet provider and it allows you to connect to the internet. This type cannot be shared via LAN cable and it cannot be changed.

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