Many questions arise concerning IP addresses – How do they work? How are they assigned? What is an IP address made of? Who determines devices IP address? The IP address system has been developed extensively since the conception of the internet and has played an important role in the facilitation of communication for many years. An IP address is the personal identifier of your device. One question that is commonly asked is “Is an IP Address Fixed to One Computer?” In most cases, this is not a straightforward yes or no answer as there are many different circumstances that could alter the outcome. This article aims to unravel the mystery and explain how an IP address can be assigned to your device.
As mentioned above, this question is not a simple yes or no answer. Your individual circumstance will dictate how your IP address has been assigned. When considering how an IP address is assigned, we must look at Static IP Addresses, Dynamic IP Addresses, how IP addresses are used in a network, and how IP Addresses are used when operative a VPN service.
Static IP Address – At static IP address is one of the few types of IP address that is fixed to one device. Usually, an ISP provides dynamic IP addresses for ease of use and distribution, however a static IP address many be requested. This IP address will not change and will be used solely for your device for as long as you hold ownership of it. This type of IP address is generally used by businesses and dedicated services such as FTP servers.
Dynamic IP Address – Most IP addresses used by the general public are dynamic and make us of DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) for management and distribution. A dynamic IP address may indeed change over time, therefore, this type of address is not always fixed to one computer. Dynamic IP addresses are cost effective, efficient, and are the preferred means of connection for Internet Service Providers.
An internal network – If you have a home network that connects to the internet through a router or firewall, there may be several devices connecting using the same IP address. A router will divert and process any outgoing data from various devices on your network and distribute it using one IP address. So in this instance, your routers IP address will actually be used on more than one computer. To avoid confusion, the router or networking device responsible for the transferal of data will assign each device on the network a unique identifier to ensure that they can still be identified.
Using a VPN service – If you are using a VPN service, the IP address that is shown when trying to connect to your computer may be the same as many other peoples. A VPN service will hide your own IP address and substitute it with a generic address from a database it holds. This same IP address could be used by other users of the VPN service.
As you can see, the original question is hugely circumstantial and an IP address is indeed not always simply allocated to one computer.
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