Everyone who is connected to the internet, has an IP address but have you ever wondered how often it changes? Indeed this is actually a very important question for all sorts of people and situations. For example many companies use IP targeting as a way to focus their adverts online, if the address changes then it’s going to be a waste of money. So being aware of how IP addresses particularly residential ones can change is vital. However the answer is not entirely straight forward and depends on several factors.
First of all let’s look at the basics, how do most of us sitting at home get that IP address assigned. However we should also be aware of an important distinction at this point, that there are two different IP addresses involved with our connection. The first one is the public IP address also referred to as the gateway address which is assigned by our ISP to our modem/router or firewall. This device will then normally assign another ‘internal’ address to the specific device – our phones, tablets or computers. These are primarily used to interact with each other but have no relevance outside our own home network.
External and Internal IP Addresses – An Important Difference
So remember when we’re referring to tracking IPs, blocking, filtering or hiding our addresses using a VPN or proxy we are only concerned with our external IP addresses. The internal one is of no use and little concern to accessing the outside world, although if you get them wrong they can cause problems between your own devices. You may also see it referred to as a ‘private address’ but don’t worry they’re all the same thing, here’s mine –
You can see the address assigned to my network card is 192.168.1.77 and my router is 192.168.1.254. They’re both on the same subnet (192.168.1) so can communicate with each other without issues. Most modems, Wifi access points and routers are assigned standard IP address like this – usually something like 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.1.1254. However it’s relatively unimportant as long as they can see each other.
So let’s look at how my PC is assigned that address. It can be assigned manually by me going into the network properties of the network interface card and typing it in. However most routers and modems will take care of this for you automatically by using something called DHCP. This stands for Dynamic Host Control Protocol and it’s main job is to assign an IP address (from an available block) to every device on your network. So in this scenario my router can assign any address from 192.168.1.225-192.168.1.253 to any device which needs one. This address will be assigned temporarily to the device and then returned to the available pot after a specific time referred to as the lease.
DHCP is one of the most widely used protocols in the world for one very good reason, normally there are more network devices than there are available IP addresses. Using DHCP you can use a pool of addresses to assign an IP to a device only when it’s needed. It will probably be running on your modem or router by default. Indeed when you walk into a cafe or hotel somewhere, DHCP will assign your phone or laptop an IP address to enable you to access the internet.
How Often Does My IP Address Change ?
So we’ve learnt there is a difference between public and private IP addresses, but the protocol DHCP applies to both. That little router sitting in your home is assigning addresses to your home-based devices using DHCP but it’s also probably being used by your ISP to assign your public IP address too.
So your router/modem will need at least one public IP address in order to allow your network to access the internet. When it connects to your Internet Service Provider, their gateway will use DHCP to assign a residential IP address for it to use. That address can be assigned in two distinct ways –
- Static Public IP Address
- Dynamic Public IP Address
Both of these can be assigned by DHCP but with a crucial difference, the static address one will not change over time. Many companies or individual will pay extra for a static IP address as it means it’s easier to access your network from anywhere in the world. Potentially if you remember the address and your router/firewall allows it, then you can your network from anywhere in the world using this address.
The dynamic address is what most people have and consists of an IP address assigned to your connection for a period of time. This is referred to as the lease time and it can actually vary quite a bit between different ISPs and countries. In the USA the average lease time is 7 days, so after a week your IP address will be released and you’ll be assigned another one. However you should always check this as some ISPs assign addresses for a lot longer with many people reporting the same address after many months of continual use.
In fact many ISPs will use specific events rather than a specified time period to change addresses. Often an ISP will leave the address in place until the connecting device is rebooted or re-establishes the connection. So in theory if you leave your internet connection up and don’t reboot your hardware you may effectively have a static IP address. In addition if you do want to switch addresses for some reason, then quickly rebooting your modem may change you address instantly.
The only way to be sure is to check, but there’s no doubt that many people have effectively got static IP addresses without having to pay extra for them.
Why Did My IP Address Suddenly Change?
Well for most home users then it will be for one of a couple of reasons. You’ve rebooted the modem, or something like a power cut has caused your internet connection to drop. When it’s reconnected then a new IP address is assigned to the new connection.
Or simply the lease on your IP address has expired and it’s been automatically assigned a new one by your ISP. Both of these scenarios are quite likely depending on which ISP you are using. If you want to check what your public IP address is at any particular moment then there are lots of tools and sites for checking. However the easiest option is to got to Google and search for ‘what’s my IP address’ and will tell you.
There is one other option worth mentioning, many ISPs will assign a new address when the hardware that is connecting changes. So for example if you bought a new router and connected it, then you’d probably lose the original IP address and be assigned a new one. For people who want to use this method without having the expense of buying a new router all the time, you can spoof or change your hardware or MAC (Media Access Control) address manually – forcing a change. It’s enough for the occasional change to manage a couple of profiles or bypassing a block but it’s not going to be enough to use Jarvee to manage loads of Instagram profiles.
If you only need to switch your IP address infrequently it’s often worth seeking out an ISP which works like this. It can certainly save you having to invest in private proxies to hide your real address if you only need to do it occasionally. It really does vary though in how often do IP address change between different ISPs and connection types. For example I’ve recently migrated my connection to a full fiber optic solution. The installation engineer told me that it was very unusual for anyone’s IP address to change more than once a year or so even if you reboot your router often. Great news if you want a relatively static IP address not so much if you want to able to switch residential IP addresses occasionally. Looking at my logs from my previous provider, I usually had a new IP address every month although I was trying to encourage that change.