IP addresses are one of those annoying concepts on the Internet that everyone has to deal with on some level, most people don’t exactly know what it is, and at times it can be downright frustrating or completely impede your Internet enjoying progress.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. IP addresses are actually pretty basic (although the execution gets a little confusing), and if you don’t get thrown by the series of cryptic numbers, are simple and useful tools in your home network to be aware of.
This article is a quick overview of how an IP address works, particularly in relation to your router, and specifically a Netgear router, one of the more common brands. In fact, let’s get one thing out of the way, which may answer readers’ main or only question.
Your home router (more on that later) has a default IP address, or default gateway, which is where it automatically lives on your home network. The default IP address for most Netgear routers is:
192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1
One other good thing to know is that some Netgear models have a feature that allows the web address http://routerlogin.com to redirect the connection to your router’s IP address, just so you don’t have to keep looking up your IP address.
Ok now what the heck are we talking about?
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a unique identifier in the form of a numerical label that identifies each device that exists on a computing network. For the sake of this article, a network likely refers to all of the devices you have in your home or office. So, for example, let’s say at home you have your main computer, a printer, your spouse’s laptop, your kid’s tablet, etc.
In the old days, all of those would be connected with stupid cables, but today almost all networks use wireless on some level. But don’t let the wireless signal fool you, your network is a bunch of devices that are all connected to each other, talking. In most cases, extracting that sweet Internet juice from a central source.
In order for these devices to talk, they need to know each other’s phone numbers, or, that’s right, addresses. So IP address stands for Internet Protocol address, and it’s a system set up long ago that would be the standard address system for all of the computers on the Internet. This system is also known as the TCP/IP protocol, and all that means is, this is the way devices identify themselves and communicate with other connected devices. There are two different formats for the number in the system, IPv4 and IPv6, but we won’t get into all that here, nor will we get into where the system of numbers comes from. That’s fodder for another tutorial.
What does a Netgear Router do?
A router is like the traffic cop of your network of computing devices. It actually does a lot of things, but this is the main one. Internet data comes in through the router via your cable or DSL connection, and then the router divvies up that data to all of the devices that need it. It can split this Internet using ethernet cables or a wireless signal, which has become increasingly common. One other note is that a router also provides some security for your network, keeping out some unwanted malware.
What is the function of the Netgear’s IP address?
To be clear (I hope), a router actually has two IP addresses. This is because it’s a device on two different networks, your home network and the Internet. The LAN-IP is the local network in your home or office, and this is where it lives in connection to other devices in your home. The LAN-IP is the same for most routers of a certain brand (see above). It also has an external, WAN-IP. WAN stands for Wide Area Network, the most famous of which is the whole Internet. So the WAN-IP is how other devices on the Internet communicate with your router. These are all different.
The most important thing for you to know about your router’s IP address is that, especially when first setting up a network, it allows access to the router configuration or manager screen. Enter the IP address into the web browser of a computer connected to the router, and it will take you to the screen that allows you full access to your router’s settings, including how to fire up your Internet signal. Enter the address into the browser, and when you see a prompt screen for a name and password, enter “admin” and “password”. And off you go.