An internet protocol address—or IP address for short—is a unique numerical identification. The ID is used to address data that you send and to deliver data that you receive. With that in mind, let us consider why you might want to change that number and how you can go about it.
Your IP Address Explained
An IP address is a four-part series of numbers. Each part can range from zero to 255. In other words, the full IP range is 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255. When you connect to a website, for instance, it sees your IP address and can identify details about you based on that ID, such as the country you live in and your city and state if you are in the U.S. There are both public and private IP addresses. Generally, when internet users discuss revealing their IP addresses online and changing them, they are referring to their public IP addresses. You may also encounter the terms static and dynamic. Static IP addresses are assigned for the long term. Dynamic IP addresses are assigned for the short term.
Public vs. Local IP Addresses
Your public IP address is assigned to you by your internet provider. ISP-assigned IP addresses are usually dynamic, which means that the ISP can assign you a new IP address as needed. That said, you can keep the same public IP address for months and even years, which means that the concepts of short term and long term require some context when it comes to static and dynamic IP address.
Local IP addresses are used within your home network. Your router has its own IP address, which is often referred to as the gateway IP since all data is sent there before being sent out to the internet. Your modem has its own IP address as well, which is distinct from the internet service provider-assigned public IP address. Every device—desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and so forth—that connect to the network have their own IP address as well. Local IP addresses are often static because having them update unexpectedly would be inconvenient when it comes to shared resources, such as network printers.
Finding Your IP Address
There are many websites online that will provide your IP address, but it is helpful to know how to find it on your own. In Windows, open a command prompt and type ipconfig. Your IP address will be provided there. You can also discover it through your router, which receives that information from your modem.
Hiding Your IP Address via a VPN
For the average internet user, hiding your IP address is a much better option that changing it. The reason being that whatever you are trying to overcome will simply become a problem again. If you pay for a virtual private network service, then you can simply connect to a new VPN server. Think of a VPN as a tunnel through which you connect to the internet. You can still send and receive data, but the websites and various services you connect to will see the IP address of the VPN rather than yours.
Changing Your IP Address by Resetting Your Modem
If you do want to change your public IP address, then one way to accomplish it is to disconnect your modem. You current IP address will eventually be released, and your ISP will assign you a new address when you reconnect. How long this takes varies between ISPs.
Changing Your IP Address via Your ISP
You can also call your ISP and ask them to change it. This approach can be hit or miss as well. Some are unable to do it due to their network configurations. Among those that can, some will just do it whereas others will be reticent and may require some coaxing from a good customer to get it done.