Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How did you get my IP address?


I just read your automated answer to the question I posted, and you’ve got
me worried. I can see my IP address in your answer. How did you do that? Does
that mean that if I email you you also get my IP address?

I’m constantly amazed at how many people are concerned about the privacy of
their IP address.

I guess I shouldn’t be that amazed, because of the number of other questions
I get by people trying to trace an IP address to a specific person or

Folks, there is no privacy with respect to your IP address. But that
does not mean just anyone can actually find you.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

When you connect to any web site, your IP address given to that site so that
it knows where to send the data back. It’s that simple. If your IP address
wasn’t included, the web server wouldn’t know how to get you the web pages you
want to look at.

That also means that web servers that ‘do something’ – like process a form
or take a question, have access to that information. When you post a question
on my ask a question page, the software that
processes your question knows your IP address, and includes that information on
the automated email that confirms your question.

The only difference between what my form does and the rest of the internet
is that my form shows you what I know. Every website you visit also knows your
IP address and can do whatever they like with it.

“Unless you expect the police to come after you for some
reason, no one will find your physical location from your IP address.”

But “what they can do with it” is very, very little.

Most people are afraid that they can somehow be physically located
by their IP address. Yes, it is technologically possible, but it
requires that your ISP provide the information. The only time they do
is under court order or other legal pressure. Unless you expect the police to
come after you for some reason, no one will find your physical location from
your IP address.

In fact, all I could tell from the original questioner is that they were
using an ISP based in England, and that they are possibly located in a specific
region in England. To learn more I’d have to get their ISP to tell me – which
they won’t.

Now, I still won’t publish the IP address here – or anywhere for that
matter. With an IP address, it is possible to attack the computer
across the internet without knowing it’s location. For example one could stage
a denial of service attack – attempting to overwhelm the computer at that IP
address with bogus data.

But you still won’t know where that computer is.

Now, as to email sometimes your email provider will include the email
address of your computer, particularly if you use POP3/SMTP to connect to get
your mail. For web based mail services like HotMail, GMail and the like results
are mixed. Some will and some won’t include your IP address in the header. In
fact I’ve even seen HotMail be very inconsistent about this – sometimes it
does, sometimes it does not.

But as I keep telling people, in the long run it doesn’t matter.

In fact, come to think of it, everyone who’s ever gotten an email from me
has my IP address in the mail headers.

It just the way things work.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

27 comments on “How did you get my IP address?”

  1. Someone detecting and knowing your IP address is the least of your concerns with the internet. There is probably loads of information about you online that you don’t know about. But of course we all know we shouldn’t do a search on ourselves or any other personal info due to recent AOL events.

    If you really are worried about someone “finding” you or perhaps hacking into your computer from Botswana, just take the time to encrypt any docs you may have so that they (or even a virus) can’t access that information.


  2. I had a Malicious atack on my computer today, my virus protection recorded the IP address as, when I tried to find out who and why, the virus software would not allow it, can you give me some advice in this matter.
    Kind Regards

  3. I’m 19, a college student, and live alone. My home was buglarized including a expensive computer. How do I find the IP adress of a computer no longer in my possession? ISP or HP tech support possibly? And how do I find out the IP address from posted items.. pic and such? Thank you, Tyler

    Hash: SHA1

    You don’t.

    The IP address is not permanantly assigned to your computer. It’s assigned to
    your computer *over its connection*. Once you change the connection (by taking
    the computer out of your house) the IP address changes.



    Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


  5. Is there any reason you should or should not provide an employer with your IP address AND password?? What can they get to if they have your password and not just the IP address? Why do they want it?

    Hash: SHA1

    No it does not. It was 300 miles of for me, for example.


    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


  7. Some ICP Clown found where i live and my moms name on the internet somehow…..what should i do?

    ICP? Have no idea what that is, and hence what you should do. (Insane Clown Posse?)

    – Leo


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.