Public vs Private IP Address – Differences and Uses

Ruheni Mathenge  - Streaming Expert
Last updated: June 4, 2024
Read time: 13 minutes

This article describes all the differences between a public and private IP address. It also explains how to hide your IP address with a VPN.


IP address is an online identifier that correctly transfers information to you. There are two types of IP addresses:

Read this article till the end to learn more about these two types of IP addresses and the differences between them.


IP addresses are numerical identifiers assigned to a device or router. By using it, you can direct internet traffic to the right place. Your postal address is equivalent to an IP address by which the postal department can deliver letters to the recipient.

Most users only know about IP addresses, but few are aware of public or private IP addresses. Both IP addresses help users to connect to the internet.

This article will discuss the minor and major differences between the two by comparing the public vs private IP addresses. Also, we will explain how you can protect yourself and your IP address from possible online threats.

Public IP address vs. Private IP address overview

Who is my ISP

A public IP address is a unique code your ISP (Internet Service Provider) gives your device. Thanks to this code, your devices may connect through the internet. A public IP address makes peer-to-peer communication, server setup, and website hosting possible.

On the other hand, a private IP address is designed for internal use. It helps your devices to communicate with each other within the local network. Your router assigns this IP address to devices within a local network, such as your computer or smart TV. Private IP addresses adhere to specific address ranges defined by IANA (Internet Access Numbers Authority).

Below is a breakdown of the major differences between public IP addresses and private IP addresses.

CategoryPublic IP AddressPrivate IP Address
PriceThis isn’t free. The price of a public IP address depends on the type of IP address and your ISP.This is free of charge
RangeClass A – to
Class B – to
Class C – to
Class A – to
Class B – to
Class C – to
How to ViewYou can view your public IP address by searching for “What is my IP address” on GoogleYou can check system preferences or settings
UniquenessThe code is completely unique for each deviceThe code isn’t unique; different routers are using it
UtilityIt is used to communicate with different devices over the global internetIt is used to communicate with devices within a local network
TraceabilityThis address can be traced by your ISP, the government, hackers, and advertisersPrivate IP addresses can be traced by other devices within the local network

What is a public IP address?

Change IP address country

A public IP address, an external address, is a unique address given to your router by your ISP. With the help of your public IP address, sending and receiving messages is easy. Also, you can’t access the internet if you don’t have a public IP address.

Imagine your device to be your house and your public IP address as your home address that helps people find you. This special address ensures that data gets across to you easily.

What is an external IP address?

An external IP address serves as a means by which your device can communicate with other devices outside the local network. It also helps you communicate with other public IP addresses.

When your device is connected to the internet, your ISP assigns an external IP address. The assigned IP address is unique to your device at that moment. Usually, your external IP address may change as you connect and disconnect from the internet. This is because the IP you were given is dynamic.

What is my public IP address?

Finding the IP address your ISP assigned to your device is quite easy. All you have to do is go to Google and search “What is my IP address?” or use an online IP checker tool for a more detailed look. The address you see after you search is your IP address.

The government, hackers, or your ISP can trace your online activity to your IP address. This makes it easy for you to be a victim of possible threats. You can avoid possible threats on your IP by using a VPN. It uses advanced security features to protect your IP while browsing from your ISP and hackers.

Whenever your device wants to interact with the internet, a new IP is given by your ISP. This is because distributing a static IP would’ve been expensive, and with the small number of IPv4 addresses available, not all devices would have an IP.

Why should I hide my public IP address?

You may wonder if hiding your public IP address while using the internet is important. Ironically, while revealing a public IP address is essential for your online existence, hiding your IP address is equally crucial. Aside from your public IP address helping you interact with other devices online, it lets others trace your online activity to your IP.

With this in mind, should you hide your IP address? The answer is yes.

There are different ways to hide your IP address while using the internet. You can use a VPN, proxy server, or a private browser like Tor. We’ll advise using a VPN to hide your public IP address. A virtual private network secures your online activity through advanced security encryption. It also provides you with a fast connection for browsing.

What is a private IP address?

A private IP address is one that your router gives to your device. This address is usually used for local networks in offices, residential areas, and enterprises.

What is an internal IP Address?

An internal IP address is mostly used for devices interacting within your local area networks. This IP address can only seen by computers within your local network. Any computer connected to an external network can’t see your internal IP address. An internal IP address is also called a private IP address.

One outstanding benefit of an internal IP address is that different computers can use the same IP address. Internal IP addresses usually start with

Why are private IP addresses needed?

Private IP addresses make it easy for devices like printers and file servers to communicate and share resources without needing public-facing IP addresses. With the limited availability of IPv4, private IP addresses are used to conserve the limited pool of public IP addresses available worldwide.

It is said that IPv4 addresses will no longer be in use in the coming days. Instead, devices will make use of IPv6 addresses. Additionally, computers will no longer need NAT (Network Address Translation) to connect to the internet.

What is my private IP address?

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Finding your private IP address may not be as easy as searching “what is my IP” on Google, but the process is straightforward. Knowing your private IP address is only necessary when you’re trying to configure your network’s advanced settings or troubleshooting.

To find your private IP address on Windows, all you have to do is:

  • Long press the Windows key and the letter “R” to open Run.
  • Write “cmd in the blank space to open a prompt window.
  • In the prompt window, type in the command “ipconfig” and press Enter.
  • A list of addresses will come up, including your IPv4 address.

By following the steps below, you can also find the Private IP address of your Windows:

  • Click onStart” and go to “Settings.”
  • In the Settings, select “Network and Settings.”
  • Click on the tab that says “Properties.”
  • Scroll till you see the IPv4 address. The code that comes up is your local IP address.

Follow the steps below to find your Private IP address:

  • Select the Apple menu.
  • Choose “System preferences.”
  • Click on “Network.”
  • Select your network connection from the menu on the left.
  • Your local IP address will be listed next to the IP Address for Ethernet connections and under Status for Wi-Fi connections.

Can you hide your private IP address?


A private IP address isn’t visible to the public because it is used within local networks. It is only seen by devices within the same network. To protect your IP address from third parties, you can hide your IP from other devices within a local network. You must designate your network as Public rather than Home in Windows 10.

You can monitor your public IP address for network traffic and potential security breaches with IDPS (Intrusion Detection and Prevention System). IDPS helps protect your public IP address from malware and hacking.

Apart from designating your IP address as public on Windows, you can also hide your IP address by using a VPN. A Virtual Private Network helps hide your IP address while you’re browsing. It also protects your data from hackers and the government.

Public vs. Private IP address: How are they different?

Public vs private IP address

After understanding public and private IP addresses, it is important to know their differences.


The public and private IP addresses aren’t the same. They are both used differently. Your public IP address helps you interact with other devices on the internet. Meanwhile, your private IP address helps you interact with other devices in your local network.

You can access the internet easily by using a public IP address. This IP address sends you information through your router network. Network Access Translation then sends This information from your router to your device through a private IP address.

A public IP address assigns unique codes to your router network for each connection, but a private IP address assigns the same code to devices in your local network. The most used IP, IPv4, allows only four billion unique addresses. This is less than the number of devices that are connected globally. Therefore, different devices can’t have unique codes. So, to conserve the IPv4 addresses, the same private IP address is shared among all the devices within a local network.

According to reports, IPv6 is set to take over IPv4. This IP consists of a 128-bit alphanumeric string, allowing 340 undecillion connections. This means that there would be enough unique IPs for various devices.

Fixed ranges

Public and private IP addresses are organized within specific numeric ranges. This helps to maintain a systematic and logical framework. The distribution of private IP addresses to various companies around the globe is handled by IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). Below are some of the IP addresses used by the popular router manufacturers:

Router manufacturersPrivate IP address
D-Link/ Netgear192.168.0.1
Cisco192.168.1.254 or or

Conversely, public IP addresses consist of numeric strings that aren’t assigned to private IDs. Each public IP address is unique and can only be used once. Meanwhile, private IP addresses are often reused across various routers.


Websites and servers find you easily through your public IP address. Because of this, your public IP address must always be visible. Once your public IP address is visible, it is easy for your network router to receive information. Because your public IP address always stays visible, it is easy for hackers and third parties to attack your device.

Your private IP address is only visible to devices within your local network. Any other device outside your local network can’t see your private IP address. Hackers can easily access your data once a breach in your local network opens you up to phishing scams.

You can protect your public and private IP addresses using a virtual private network. A VPN helps to change your public IP address when you’re browsing. It also helps hide your private IP from other devices in your local network.

How to use a VPN to keep your IP Address hidden


When choosing a VPN to hide your IP address, go for a provider with decades of experience in cybersecurity. These VPNs are easy to set up or configure on your phone or PC.

Follow the steps below to conceal your IP address with a VPN:

  • Choose a reputable VPN service. NordVPN is our top recommendation.
  • Download your selected VPN.
  • Then, sign in or create an account.
  • Choose a server of your choice.
  • Proceed to connect to the VPN.
  • Verify your IP address using the IP lookup tool.

Our top VPNs – Detailed overview

You can best hide your IP address by using a trusted VPN. However, finding the right VPN can be difficult as various VPNs are available. To help you make the right choice, we selected three VPNs that we consider the best. Read this detailed review to know more.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN for Streaming

One of the most trusted VPN services that helps you hide your IP address and remain anonymous while surfing online.

servers Has a fast VPN network of over 5,500 secure nodes present in 60+ countries
Ad Blocker feature Boasts an effective Cybersec ad blocker
encryption Has AES-256 encryption for the utmost security
Kill switch Boasts a specialized kill switch feature
Split tunneling feature Enables customized data routing with split tunneling function
MultiHop mode Offers stealth protection by Double VPN mode
tor compatible Integrates the Tor over VPN servers
Zero-logs policy Obeys a strict no-logs policy
simultaneous connections Allows up to 10 simultaneous connections
money-back guarantee Offers a 30-day refund policy
  • Offers a 7-day free trial to all new users
  • Quick helpful customer support
  • Provides consistently fast speed for browsing
  • Mobile app is poorly optimized

NordVPN is one of the few VPNs with a dark web monitor. This cybersecurity feature scans the internet for any credential leaks associated with your account, especially your email address. This VPN provider also has a Threat protection feature. It helps easily block malware, ads, web trackers, and other threats.


With VPN’s Meshnet feature, you can create your encrypted network. You can also connect multiple devices together anywhere in the globe. Additionally, your data remains safe with this service as it has a no-log policy and AES-256-bit encryption.

2. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN new features block logo 120 by 120 now

An unprecedented VPN service that has top-notch security and privacy and helps users remain safe. With its super-fast servers and excellent unblocking capabilities, you can unblock and stream your desired content.

servers Has a network of over 3,000 effective VPN servers scattered in around 85+ countries
Trusted servers nord Owns RAM-only servers
encryption Employs a rigid encryption standard; AES-256
Zero-logs policy Does not store users’ data
Split tunneling feature Offers a dedicated split tunneling feature to route specific traffic
network lock feature Has a reliable kill switch to prevent IP leaks
tor compatible Offers Onion over VPN servers
P2P optimized servers Allows Peer-to-Peer (P2P) sharing or torrenting
simultaneous connections Supports 8 devices to be connected concurrently
money-back guarantee Comes with a hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Allows unlimited torrenting with P2P sharing
  • Simple and intuitive user interface
  • Top-notch privacy and security features
  • Limited port-forwarding support

Since ExpressVPN’s launch in 2008, it has helped various individuals to take control of their privacy and security. ExpressVPN has advanced features that help keep your data protected while using the internet. It uses AES-256-bit encryption to protect your data, has a no-log policy, and protects your device against DNS and WebRTC leaks.

ExpressVPN homepage new

It boasts over 3,000 servers in more than 94 countries. This means you can dodge those annoying geo-blocks with ease. The VPN also boasts a robust kill switch named “Network Lock” that helps protect your information whenever your connection is lost.

Compatibility isn’t an issue for this service; it works with major operating systems. Although ExpressVPN may be a bit pricey, it offers enough features to justify its cost.

3. ExtremeVPN

ExtremeVPN VPN block logo

An over-the-top VPN provider that ensures maximum anonymity via robust encryption and impressive security features.

servers Offers 6,500 servers present across 78 countries worldwide
encryption Utilizes up-to-date security protocols, including AES-256 encryption
P2P optimized servers Enables distributed file sharing through P2P connections
Zero-logs policy Doesn’t collect users’ data
Kill switch Includes a unique kill switch feature to block data leaks
Split tunneling feature Offers flexible data routing through split tunneling feature
tor compatible Boasts Tor over VPN servers for stealth protection
simultaneous connections Offers 10 simultaneous devices to be connected at one subscription
protection Provides protection against IP/DNS leaks
money-back guarantee Has a refund policy of 30 days
  • Budget-friendly VPN service
  • Easy-to-navigate service
  • Offers a stable connection and lightning-fast speed
  • Lacks a dedicated IP address

ExtremeVPN has an attractive pricing plan for users mindful of their budget. Although new, it has some amazing features found in other top VPNs. These include a no-log policy, DNS leak protection, and AES-256-bit encryption. It makes use of obfuscated servers to hide VPN usage from your ISP.


Despite its low cost, it has a large server network spread across over 78+ countries in 88+ countries worldwide. Additionally, this VPN has multi-port capabilities, offering you a premium VPN experience.

The number 192.168 is a private IP address. The Internet Access Numbers Authority (IANA) reserves to for private IP addresses.

A private IP address is changed to a public IP address through the Network Access Translation process. This process ensures that your traffic is sent over the internet.

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About the Author

Ruheni Mathenge

Ruheni Mathenge

Streaming Expert
201 Posts

Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Ruheni Mathenge specializes in writing long-form content dedicated to helping individuals and businesses navigate and understand the constantly evolving online security and web freedom worlds. He specializes in VPNs, online anonymity, and encryption. His articles have appeared in many respected technology publications. Ruheni explains complicated technical concepts clearly and simply. He advocates digital freedom and online privacy at every level.

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