We often change the computer devices that we use on our home network, either upgrading to a better PC/laptop/tablet, or replacing a broken one. But when we do this, does our IP address change on the new device? Does changing your computer also change your IP address?
In general, if you get a new PC/laptop/tablet, but stay on the same Wi-Fi network, your public IP address will not change, since these are assigned to routers/households and not individual devices. However, the private/local IP address will change as the router issues the new computer with a new local IP often along 192.168.0.1-254 range.
In other words, just getting a new computer device, but leaving all other things constant, including your router, router settings, ISP and network, doesn’t actually change the public IP address (the one that websites log when we go online). It actually stays the same under the IPv4 addressing scheme that uses NAT to convert public to private IP addresses, and which will issues a new local IP to a new device, but with the same public IP.
Let’s break down the issue in more detail, examining what changes (and what doesn’t) when you get a new PC/laptop/tablet computer, and why this is the case.
Public & Private IP Addresses Defined & Differentiated
Let’s explain a little bit more how the still currently predominant IPv4 addressing scheme actually splits IP addresses into public/private, since there aren’t enough unique IPv4 address to cover every device on the planet.
Network Address Translation or NAT is what does this public/private splitting. There is a newer IPv6 protocol that doesn’t need NAT, but for now, IPv4 is still the most commonly used.
See the diagram below for a good demonstration of how NAT splits public IP to private IP addresses:
NAT type resolves the issue of there not being enough unique IPv4 addresses in the world by converting a a public IP address (22.214.171.124 – issued by the ISP) into a private IP address and range (192.168.0.1-255) so it can then dish out the private (local network) IP addresses you see in the image to each device on the home network
What Happens To Your Public IP Address When You Get A New Device?
Therefore, using the diagram above, it’s quite easy to see how your public IP address would actually remain unchanged if you got a new PC/laptop/tablet, but connected it to the same router/network you usually do.
Because public IPv4 addresses are assigned to routers or households (in the diagram above, the 126.96.36.199 IP address), just getting a new computer and adding this to the network doesn’t change that. It will actually stay the same when you use one of those IP lookup tools (see below).
There are other ways you CAN change this public IP, which we’ll cover in a section below, but just adding a new computer to the existing network without changing anything else doesn’t change that device’s public IP under IPv4 addressing.
There is a newer, more complex and spacious addressing scheme called IPv6 which does issue unique, single addresses to devices, but for now, IPv4 is still most commonly used.
What Happens To Your Local/Private IP Address When You Get A New Device?
This is the bit that WILL change if you get a new computer and add it to an existing network. Using the example diagram above, all the devices on the local network have been issued local IP’s by the router’s DHCP protocol along the 192.168.0.x range, where x is between 1-254.
Therefore, any new PC/laptop/tablet added to the network will get issued a free, available local IP address along the DHCP range by set the router, and not currently being used by another device on the network
(eg. in the example above it could be given 192.168.0.33, but it couldn’t be given anything currently assigned to any of the other devices also connecting to the same router).
But really, the last digit of the local IP is totally random and can be anything along the permitted range (in this case, 1-254, but other ranges exist like 10.0.0.1-254 or 192.168.112.1-254 plus many others, varying by router and ISP). These local IP’s do change as they get shuffled round or swapped out for each device at set intervals determined by the router’s DHCP Lease Time.
How DHCP Assigns IP Address To Devices
Finding Your Computer’s Public IP Address
If you want to test this out, you can do a kind of “before and after” test and look up your public/external IP before connecting a new PC/laptop/tablet, and after connecting it.
You can do this by opening up a browser and loading up any of those “what is my IP address” tools:
- The whatismyipaddress.com IP lookup tool
- The whatismyip.com lookup tool
- The iplocation.net tool
- NordVPN’s IP address lookup tool
Something like this should display, giving your router’s public IP, ISP and approximate location:
You should see that the public IP displayed doesn’t actually change just connecting a new computer to the same network you always connect to.
Finding Your Computer’s Private/Local IP Address (IPv4)
The local or private IPv4 address uniquely issued to each device for a set time under the router DHCP protocol, can be found on the device itself under the Network/Internet settings.
Here are steps for major computer types:
- Windows devices – go to Network/Internet settings…Wi-Fi….Change adapter options. Find your current Wi-Fi/ethernet connection being used, right click on it and select Status then Details. Scroll down and your private IPv4 address should be displayed (eg. 192.168.1.4).
- Mac devices – go to System Preferences……Network, and select your Wi-Fi/Ethernet connection to view the local IP address. in OS X 10.4, go to the TCP/IP tab to see the IP address. See here.
- Android tablets – Check under Network/Internet/Wi-Fi settings, clicking on the cog settings icon next to a Wi-Fi connection to see the private IP address. Sometimes, it’s displayed under the Phone Information settings instead. Or go to Settings and scroll down to About Phone to see device details, including IPv4 and IPv6 address.
This is the IP address that’s often along the 192.168.x.x range, but it can differ between networks. However, every device on that network will have a unique local IP along it’s DHCP range at any one time, that no other device on that network has, although DHCP protocol does swap them out a regular intervals.
If you don’t want this local IP to change for your new computer, and instead want to lock or fix it in place, you can do this. It’s called setting a static IP or reserving an IP for a device on the router. See this guide for how do it for games consoles, but you can do it with any device you like.
What Does Change Your Computer’s Public IP Address?
Therefore if just getting a new PC/laptop/tablet computer doesn’t actually change your public IP address if connecting to the same router as usual, what does change your public IP address?
There are actually quite a few things which do change a router/household’s IP address, such as:
- Connecting to a new router/network (eg. moving from your home network and connecting to a friend’s network, or a public Wi-Fi network like in a library/bar/train station etc).
- Factory resetting your router
- Maintenance resets of your router by your ISP (often at night)
- Getting a new router.
- Changing internet providers
- Moving house.
- Using a VPN.
All these things either cause your router to be issued with a new public IP address, or in the case of a VPN, mask your actual public IP and replace it with a new one temporarily.
Using a VPN To Change Your Computer’s Public IP Address
If you want to change the public IP address and location of a PC/laptop/tablet device from it’s actual one, the best option is to use a Virtual Private Network or VPN.
These are powerful pieces of software which add a strong layer of encryption around your internet traffic, and also masks your actual public IP address and location and replaces it with a new one determined by the server location you select from it’s interface.
There are loads of VPN apps now available for all device types, including laptops, PCs and tablets; see the table below for some good free options to get started with seeing how a VPN works if you’ve not tried one before.
|Provider||Free Server Locations||Data Limit||More Info|
|ProtonVPN||3 (USA, Amsterdam, Japan)||Unlimited||See here|
|AtlasVPN||3 (USA East, USA West, Amsterdam)||5 GB/month||See here|
|TurboVPN||4 (USA, Germany, Singapore, India).||Unlimited||See here|
|Hide.me||5 (Netherlands, USA*2, Germany, Canada)||10 GB/month||See here|
|PrivadoVPN||10 (USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina)||10 GB/month||See here|
|Windscribe||10 (USA, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania, Denmark).||10 GB/month||See here|
|Tunnelbear||49||500 MB/month||See here|
And then for a few reputable Premium VPN brands with more servers and unlimited use:
Again, you can do a “before and after” experiment with VPN’s using those IP lookup tools to see how your public IP and location do change when you enable the VPN.
However, be aware that a VPN only changes your computer’s public IP address for as long as it’s enabled. As soon as you disable it, your IP address and location will change back to your real, actual one and isn’t masked or concealed any more.