Every computer device on a wifi network has a unique identifying number called an IP address. A network uses these unique internet protocol addresses to ensure the correct information goes to the right place, in the same way that the post office needs your home address to ensure you get your mail. For those using a hosting service for their website, it is important to have a unique IP address.
A hosting service may provide services to thousands of websites, and if they all have the same IP address and one of those sites gets blocked by a user, then all the other sites will also be blocked. The IP address provides security to both the sender and receiver. Knowing how to find someone’s IP address will give you the tools you need to secure your own. Some examples of IP addresses, so you know what you are looking for, include:
The IP address you are searching for might differ from the above, but why would you want to know it? There are several reasons as to why you might need to know someone’s IP address, and why someone might want to know yours:
- You want to establish a connection between two devices.
- You want to allow someone to access your wifi network.
- You want to block that IP address from accessing your network.
- You want to find someone’s physical location by using their IP address.
No matter your motivation, there are a few ways you can find someone’s IP address.
Use An Online IP Address Checker
One of the simplest ways to find someone’s IP address is by using an online IP address checker. There are many websites online that offer this service, with some being legitimate and others not. You enter the URL of a website, and the IP address checker will provide you with the relevant information. It is always best to double-check this provided information to ensure it is accurate.
Use Your Command Prompt
Using your computer command prompt to find someone’s IP address is a bit more complicated than the above method.
- First, you need to open your computer’s command prompt. For Windows, you access the command prompt via the start menu and then search for “command prompt.” For devices that use the Mac operating system, the command prompt is called “terminal,” which you will find in the “Utilities” folder.
- Once you have the command prompt opened, you need to ping the website of which you are trying to track the IP address. Type “ping” followed by the website you are trying to trace. As an example, if you wanted to track the IP address of Amazon, you would type in “ping www.amazon.com” and then hit enter.
- Your command prompt will return the IP addresses of the website you have searched for.
The above steps will allow you to track the IP address of a specific website, but what if you want or need to track a particular individual?
- As per the above step one, open up your computer’s command prompt.
- Open up a messenger service, Facebook chat, for example, and start a conversation with the person you wish to track. Close everything else open in your browser, and if possible, delete your history and clear your cache.
- With both the chat and command prompt open type in “netstat -an” into the prompt and press enter.
- Your command prompt will return all the IP addresses you are connected to, which you can then check with an IP location checker. You will not receive the exact location, though you can see if the person is in the same city as they claim to be.
Examine The Header of an Email
Another way to find out the location of an individual is with an email they send to you. An email, along with its content, comes with a header. The header contains a variety of information, including the senders IP address. How you access the header of an email will depend on your email client.
- Thunderbird — With Thunderbird, open the email you wish to track. In the right corner, press the more option and then select “view source” from the menu. You will then have the IP address of the sender along with other information.
- Gmail — With Gmail, open the email and then press the three small dots in the top corner. Click on the option “show original,” and you will have the IP address you are searching for.
- Outlook Web App — With the Outlook Web App, open an email and click on the down arrow in the top right. Click on the option “show message source“
- Apple Mail (On a Mac device.) — Open the email you wish to check and then press Shift + cmd + H simultaneously. Doing so will open up a window that will show you the relevant information.
Using the header to trace the origins of an email can be a great way to ensure the person you are emailing is who and where they say they are. However, those with the right skill set can fake the information you receive, so its best to always remain vigilant.
Use The Person’s Computer
The easiest way by far to find out someone’s IP address is to use their computer. Once you have their computer device, you can open up the command prompt, type in “ipconfig” and hit enter. Doing so will bring up the current IP configuration. Alternatively, you can use a website such as the above linked iplocation.com. Using this site will show you the IP address of the device you are using as well as the location. If the person’s computer has a VPN service active, the IP address won’t match your current area, with more on that below.
Stay Secure. Someone Might Be Looking for Your IP Address
Finding someone’s IP address is easy, and your motivation for finding someone’s address does not necessarily have to be malicious. You may simple wish to connect your device to another. However, some people can and will use someone’s IP address for malicious reasons, and knowing how to be able to find an IP address will keep you secure from the steps detailed above. There are a few ways to keep your IP address secure:
With a VPN Service
Using a VPN or virtual private network is effectively the same as changing your IP address. You connect to a virtual network and then receive a second IP address to cover your own. There are a variety of VPN services with many people taking advantage of the security they provide, as your internet service provider or anyone else who has access to your browsing data, cannot see what you have been accessing. A VPN will also allow you to view content that has location restrictions. There is a selection of free VPN services for you to try before committing to a monthly subscription.
Use A Proxy Server
A proxy server is slower than a VPN service though it offers a similar result. A VPN provides you a virtual network to browse with at your pleasure. A proxy server takes your request to a virtual middle man and then passes on that request to the website you are trying to access. The information you request goes back to the proxy server before being sent back to you. The website will never know your IP address, but the middle proxy server will. A proxy is not as thorough at protecting you as a VPN but will do if you are only looking to access a website restricted to your location. Unlike a VPN, proxy servers are usually free of charge.
Use Your Mobile Network
Your mobile network may be slow and lack encryption, but if you are concerned about someone tracking your IP address, it may provide a short term solution. You can use your mobile hotspot setting to allow your computer to use your mobile data plan.
Use Public Wifi
As with the above option, using a public wifi network is not a permanent solution. It can give you some browsing anonymity, though a public wifi network is not secure and can open you up to even more risks.
Ask Your Internet Service Provider
Asking your internet service provider to change your IP address is the only way to effect a permanent change unless you are confident in your skills to make changes to your computer network, above the ability of a standard computer user. Your ISP should always be able to change your IP address upon request through the duration it takes for the change to take effect can differ. This method is more secure than using either a mobile or public network; however, if someone can find an IP address once, they can most likely do it again. It is better to hide your IP address with the first two options as opposed to making a change.
Use Your New Skill to Find Somone’s IP Address, For Good
Being able to track an IP address can help you work out the source of an email, as well as distinguish if it’s a spam. If a website looks suspicious, you can check the location of the server to see if they are whom they claim to be. That same knowledge allows you to know how people, looking to cause harm, can find your IP address, which you can now hide with your new skills. The internet is full of harmful content, so keeping yourself safe is the key to an enjoyable browsing experience.