What is an IP Address?
Every device that is connected to a network, including the Internet, has an Internet Protocol (IP) address. The Internet Protocol defines a standard digital method that is used by computer devices to communicate with each other. These devices communicate by delivering and receiving datagrams, called data packets, from the source device to the destination device and vice versa over a network. Each device has a unique IP address that allows devices to find each other on a network and to exchange data packets.
Networks can be created using telephone lines, cell phones, cable TV, Ethernet cables, and with wireless routers. Routers are used to assign temporary IP addresses to devices connected to the local area network the router controls and to “route” data packets around a network to the correct devices. Some routers have extra features such as encryption of data packets, data packet error correction, and wireless access.
Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) defines 32-bit IP addresses is made up by of a group of four numbers ranging from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255. This equates to about 4 billion IP addresses. A 128-bit version of the Internet Protocol called IPv6 has been developed that will allow for many more addresses if IP addresses run out with IPv4.
How to use a Wireless Router IP Address
All wireless routers have one Internet Protocol (IP) address that is used as the address for the local area network (LAN) and one that is used for an external wide area network (WAN) connection such as the Internet. Internal (LAN) IP addresses are normally pre-set to the router manufacturer’s factory default IP address. When you enter the router’s IP address into your web browser as a http request (for example http://192.168.1.245 for a Linksys router), the browser will send a request to your router to open the router’s default administration page so you can access the router’s settings.
How to find your Wireless Router IP Address
The first place to check is in the wireless router’s user manual. If you don’t have a user manual or can’t find it, you can try visiting the manufacturer’s website and search for the default IP address there. Alternatively, connect your wireless router with its Ethernet cable to your computer and power up and start both devices. If you are running a Windows operating system such as Windows XP or Vista, bring up the Command Prompt window (Start->All Programs->Accessories->Command Prompt) and type the word “ipconfig” without the quotes at the prompt and press enter. You should see a list of IP addresses and the one that is listed next to the “Default Gateway” is the IP address of the wireless router you have connected to your computer. Next open your web browser and type in the http request using that same IP address and you should see the router’s administration page where you can log in (the user manual will also have the default username and password for the router’s administration page) to change the router’s settings.
Wireless router manufacturer’s can use different factory pre-set IP addresses for different model routers they manufacture. The factory pre-set IP address is usually stored in the firmware of the router. So if you can not get into your router’s administration page you may need to try one of the other IP addresses the manufacturer uses with other models in case the firmware was upgraded after the publication date of the user manual.