What Is a Private IP Address?

Every device in the Internet of Things has an IP address. Within each home or business network, devices connect to the Internet and to each other using those IP addresses. Private IP addresses within the three different private IP address ranges are what keeps connections between devices working successfully.

What is a private IP address?

A private IP address is a unique identifier assigned to devices within a local network. It cannot be accessed directly from the Internet. These addresses improve network security, scalability, and organization.

They also allow multiple devices to share a public IP address using Network Address Translation (NAT). Routers or DHCP servers typically assign private IP addresses. They fall within specific ranges, such as 192.168.x.x or 10.x.x.x.

These types of IPs are referred to as local IP addresses or internal IP addresses. They're used on local area networks (LANs) like your home network. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) reserves these blocks for private IP addresses only.

Private IP address on private network

There are two types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. Private IP addresses were originally created to help delay the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses.

However, even with the theoretical 4,294,967,296 addresses created by the 32-bit system, IPv4 address space began to run low with the number of new Internet-connected devices that came into businesses and homes.

Thus, private IP addresses allow private networks to use the same IP addresses internally without causing conflicts for public IP addresses. IPv6 addresses ended up being the solution to IPv4 exhaustion. However, the private IP address system still exists for internal networks.

How do private IP addresses work?

Private IPs work to identify a device on a local area network, allowing it to connect with other devices on the network and communicate or share data. When a device joins a local network, the governing router or server assigns the device a private IP.

This IP helps the router direct traffic and identify that specific device as needed. They allow network administrators to create their own networks without exhausting public IP resources. Essentially, by using private IPs, organizations and individuals can effectively manage their local communications and tasks on a smaller scale.

Who uses private IP addresses?

Thousands of WiFi routers use internal IP addresses and almost all devices are assigned a private IP. Networks can do this without conflict because the router creates a private network, preventing external users from seeing the internal IP addresses assigned. Each device within a network has a private IP address.

Additionally, all those devices operate under one public IP address, typically the router's IP. You can view your public IP address on the WhatIsMyIP site homepage, but finding your private - or local - IP address requires a few extra steps, detailed in the section below.

Several common internal IP addresses are used for home networks and routers: 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.254, 192.168.100.1, 192.168.12.1, and 10.0.0.1 are a few of the most frequently used.

The router assigns local IP addresses to devices on a network that connect to WiFi. When a connected device requests a website, the router directs the traffic accordingly, both externally through your Internet service connection and internally back to the device that made the request via Network Address Translation (NAT).

What is the difference between public and private IP addresses?

The difference between public and private IP addresses is their connection. Despite the fact that IP addresses do assist in Internet connectivity, a private IP address is not directly connected to the Internet. However, it allows you to connect securely to multiple devices in your LAN.

An internal IP address connects that network of private IPs to the Internet – the wide area network (WAN). It allows a local IP address to receive Internet traffic via a router.

As an Internet user, you have both a public IP and a private IP. If you stay on your home network, your private IP may vary depending on the device you use. However, your public IP will remain the same as long as you remain on that network.

What are the three private IP address ranges?

The three private IP ranges are class A, class B, and class C. The class A private IP address range goes from 10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255. The class B private address range includes from 172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255, and class C private IP addresses span between 192.168.0.0 and 192.168.255.255.

Class A IP addresses

Class A private address range has a total of 16,777,216 IPs available and is for very large networks or several networks behind the same external IP requires separation.  The typical subnet mask for the Class A address range is 255.0.0.0.

Private IP address ranges

Take this scenario, for example: the network administrator wants to segment out each floor of a building where the entire building uses a single external Internet connection. The administrator doesn't want each floor to connect with devices from another floor. The solution may look like this:

All devices on floor 1 get an IP in the range of 10.1.0.*. Subsequently, floor 2 IPs would be assigned 10.2.0.*, and floor 3 would be assigned 10.3.0.*. The subnet mask to keep every floor separated could be 255.255.0.0.

In simple terms, the subnet means the first two octets must match in order to communicate directly between two devices. Two devices with 10.2.0.2 and 10.2.0.3 would therefore be able to connect directly, like a network computer and a network printer. However, a device with 10.3.0.5 would not be able to print to the same printer as devices on floor 2.

Larger networks and subnets can be very complex. The above is a very simple explanation so as not to overcomplicate an example.

Class B IP addresses

Class B has a total of 1,048,576 IPs available and is for large networks. The typical subnet mask for this range is 255.240.0.0. However, this is the least-used range, likely because Class A or Class C IPs will fulfill network requirements and are much easier to remember than class B addresses. Regardless, these are still set aside as private IP address spaces if needed.

Class C IP addresses

Class C has a total of 65,536 IPs available. It has fewer IPs available, but is sufficient for most users and some businesses for their local network needs. The typical subnet mask for this range is 255.255.0.0, but most users in this network range will see the subnet as 255.255.255.0 giving that range 256 available device connections.

IPv6 addresses have been assigned the fc00::/7 range for private networks. The number of available IPv6 addresses is so vast requiring the reservation of a single address. The mindset is that there are enough IPv6 addresses that every connected device could have an external IP address and configured in such a way to still be able to communicate within a local network.

Examples of private IP addresses

Private IPs aren't routable on the public Internet, so they differ from the addresses you use online. Below, see examples from class A, class B, and class C of the private addressing system.

Examples of class A addresses include 10.0.0.1, 10.0.0.2, and 10.255.255.254. The range goes from 10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255.

For class B, consider the examples 172.16.0.1 and 172.31.255.254. This class ranges from 172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255

Class C includes the IPs 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.1, and 192.168.255.254. It ranges in totality from 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255.

Each of these ranges is reserved for private use, meaning it can be assigned to a device on a local network. Check your private IP; you may find it's one of the addresses listed above.

How to find your private IP address

Find local IP in MacOS

To find your local IP on a Mac, follow these steps:

You can find your local IP address using your computer.
  1. Select the Apple menu.
  2. Select System Settings.
  3. Click Network.
  4. With WiFi selected in the left column, select Details next to your WiFi network.
  5. Select the TCP/IP tab and view your local IP address.

Find local IP in Windows

To find your local IP in Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start menu.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose Network & Internet from the left menu.
  4. Click Properties from the top menu to view your local IP address.

Alternatively, you can follow the procedure for command prompt:

  1. Open the Start menu. Then, type cmd.
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type ipconfig and press Enter.

Find local IP in iPhone or iPad

To find your local IP on your iPhone or on your iPad, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select WiFi.
  3. Select the information icon next to the WiFi connection to view your local IP address.

Find local IP in Android

To find your local IP on your Android, follow these steps:

  1. Open your Settings app.
  2. Select About Phone.
  3. Select Status Information to view your local IP address.

Frequently asked questions

Is 192.168 a private IP address?

Yes. This is the most common private range. Many routers use this range and come preset from the factory. If you've taken a look at local IP addresses within your own network, you've likely seen the following:
IP: 192.168.1.14
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
Router or Gateway: 192.168.1.1

This is a good private IP address example; it shows all the information necessary for users.

Are private IP addresses secure?

Private IP addresses are secure, as they can't be routed on the public Internet and thus are shielded from external attacks. However, they do lack encryption, meaning that users should still take precautions and employ additional security measures - like firewalls - when setting up their network.

What is a 172 IP address?

An IP that starts with 172 could be public or private. However, if the second octet in the IP is 16 through 31, it's definitely a private address. 172.16.1.1 and 172.31.99.4 are private, but 172.15.1.1 and 172.32.5.8 are available as a public IP address because they're outside of the designated Class B IPv4 private range.

What is my private IP?

You can easily find your local IP within your network. Web browsers, by default, previously allowed your internal IP address detection and displayed on websites like this one. However, with tightening measures in WebRTC, this is no longer allowed. As a result, users looking to find their local or private IP must do it through their computer's operating system or command prompt system.

In some instances, your external IP rather than the proper internal IP assigns to your computer. Learn how to determine if your external IP is assigning to your computer by using command prompt.

How does a private IP address access the Internet?

A private IP address can’t access the Internet on its own; it only works to connect devices to one another on a local area network. However, the local area network operates under a public IP address, which connects private addresses to the Internet.

How are private IP addresses assigned?

A DHCP server or router assigns a private IP once a device joins a local network.

Can a private IP address be accessed from the Internet?

No, private IPs are inaccessible from the Internet. Only public IPs are external-facing and available to access on the public Internet.