IP addresses are an integral part of the internet and home networking. Every device that accesses the internet needs an IP address in some form, although under IPv4, it’s a bit more complex how this works out. But do IP addresses actually ever change? And if so, when do they change?
The bottom line answer is that IP addresses do often change, both for individual devices (local IP) and for routers/networks (public IP). But there are so many different possible scenarios that we need to break down when and why IP addresses actually change, as well as distinguish between public and private/local IPv4 addresses, since these are most commonly used.
Let’s give the different situations one by one of what happens to the public IPv4 address in a complete list:
- Moving house – Yes, public and private IP address will change.
- New router – Yes
- New ISP – Yes
- Connect to new router/network – Yes
- Get new device – No (IPv6 address will change though)
- Quick router restart – No
- Factory reset router – Yes
- Power cuts – Yes
- Unplug router and plug back in – Yes
- Using a VPN – Yes
- Private/Local IP address – changes at set intervals determined by router’s DHCP Lease Time.
We’ll cover each scenario in more detail to explain why (the sections are in the order listed above, so you can skip to the section you need). But first we’ll also explain about public and private IPv4 addresses. The process of private/local IPv4 address changing as per DHCP is covered right at the bottom.
Public vs Private IP Addresses (IPv4)
To understand better the issue of why IP address do and don’t change in different circumstances, it’s best to differentiate between public and private IP addresses that are still used under the still currently predominant IPv4 addressing scheme.
This scheme actually splits IP addresses into public/private, since there aren’t enough unique IPv4 address to cover every device on the planet.
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 (184.108.40.206 – issued by the ISP) into a private IP address and range (192.168.0.1-254) so it can then dish out the private (local network) IP addresses you see in the image to each device on the home network.
Therefore, it’s important to differentiate between the different IP addresses – public and private/local – when talking about the effects of changing routers.
We’ll break down the different types of IP addresses and network setups, and explains when and why both public and private IP addresses change.
But for most of this article, we’ll assume that in most cases, readers are wanting to know what happens to the public IP address, the one that’s displayed when you use one of those “what is my IP” lookup tools. This is what we’ll give the most priority to, but we’ll also cover if and when private/local IP addresses (eg. 192.168.0.1-254) change on devices as well, since they do under IPv4 addressing.
Let’s get started with some different scenarios, examining if and when IP addresses ever change.
Does Your Public IP Address Change When You Move House?
This is a very common question in this regard – we often move houses and either continue with our existing internet provider (ISP) with a new installation, or switch to a new ISP. Either way, does changing address also change our public IP?
Your public IP address will change when you move house, because IP addresses are uniquely assigned to routers based on the location and ISP. Therefore, whenever you change location, the new router you connect to will have a different external IP address.
This is the case even if you stay with the same provider, but just have a new router and line installed. IP addresses are still unique based on location, and your ISP will still issue your home network with a new public IP whenever you move.
See our full article which covers what happens to your IP address when changing address.
Does Your Public IP Address Change When You Change Router?
This is another quite common scenario – when you stay in the same house, but just connect up a new router/modem. What happens to your public IP address then?
This can appear a little confusing, since there are different setups on home networks – sometimes modems and routers and combined, and sometimes separate. However, the general answer remains the same:
Your public IP address will change when you get a new router, since your internet provider will detect a change in hardware, and issue a new external IP to the new router. The local IP addresses of your devices will also change, as the new router issues new private IPs along it’s own DHCP range.
This is the case whether your router and modem are separate or combined – new device on the network, equals a change in network conditions, therefore your ISP will issue a new public IP address to your household from it’s allocated pool of IP addresses.
See our article on IP addresses and switching routers for more on this.
Does Your Public IP Address Change When You Change Internet Provider? (ISP)
We also often change our ISP or internet provider, either to upgrade to something better or because of moving as covered above. What happens to our IP address then?
Changing internet providers will also change your public IP address, even if staying at the same address, since public IP addresses are uniquely assigned to ISPs, who then assign them to routers. Therefore changing your provider will change the IP your router/household is assigned.
Internet providers are assigned “batches” of public IPv4 addresses, which they can then allocate to their customer’s households/routers. Therefore any one public IP address can only belong to one ISP at any time. Therefore changing providers will inevitably lead your router to be issued with a new public IP address, whether you are also moving or even staying the same address.
See our article for more information on changing ISPs, and how it changes your IP address.
Does Your Public IP Address Change When You Connect To A Different Router/Network?
This is also a very common thing, when we may connect our devices to a different Wi-Fi router/network, such as when we go to a friend/relative/neighbor’s house, or even connect to a public Wi-Fi network. What happens to our public IP address then?
Connecting to a different network will always changes your public IP address, since every router is assigned a totally unique public IPv4 address that cannot be shared with any other router/network. Therefore, changing networks always alters the public IP address identified with online searches.
This is pretty simple theory – no two routers can have the same external IP address, so any two routers you compare will always have different ISPs and locations, which means their public IP will always be different. Remember, those “what is my IP” lookup tools are always tracking the external/public IP assigned to your router, so this will always change when moving around different networks.
See our article for more details on changing networks, and how and why it changes your IP address.
Does Your Public IP Address Change When You Get A New Device? (PC/Laptop/Phone/Console/Tablet)
Many of us are always introducing new devices to a home network, getting new phones/tablets/computers/games consoles etc, so what happens to your IP address when you change devices, or get a new one? Does your IP address change with a device device?
There are some different scenarios here, so here’s a summary:
- New device, on the same network/router as usual – public IP address stays the same, but the new device will be assigned a new private/local IP along the router’s DHCP range (eg. 192.168.0.1-254 – the last digit changes for each device connecting to the network).
- New device, connecting to a new router/network – public and private IP address change, because you’re connecting to a new router in a new location, plus the local IP also changes (or is issued for the first time to a new device) on any new network.
Again, this assumes all other things remain constant, and you’re not doing any other things mentioned in this guide which DO change the public IP. But all other things equal, getting a new device and connecting it to your usual router/network, doesn’t actually change the public IP address registered by websites you visit. This changes when other factors change.
But every new or existing device on a home network always has a unique local IP address along it’s range, as set by the router. In the diagram near the top, these are the 192.168.0.x addresses issued to individual devices on the right hand side (last digit different for each device).
See our guides on changing devices which basically covers the same general theory, but with some additional device-specific info as well:
- Changing phones and IP addresses
- Changing computers (PC/laptop/tablet) and IP addresses
- Changing games consoles (PlayStation/Xbox/Switch etc.) and IP addresses
Does Your Public IP Address Change When You Quick Reset Your Router? (Fast/Quick/Soft Reboot)
We’ll often quickly reboot our router just to refresh the connection or to fix some other problem, but does this also change your IP address?
In general, just quickly rebooting your router (quick/fast/soft reset) does not change your public or private IP address. They should remain the same as they were before, as long as you only perform a soft reboot/restart.
This one’s pretty simple – if you just quickly push the reset/power button on the router, nothing really changes on your home network, barring some short term interruption (around 20-30 seconds) in connectivity for devices. All IP addresses should remain the same.
See our guide on router resets and IP addresses for more details.
Does Your Public IP Address Change When You Factory Reset Your Router?
Let’s also cover the more drastic “nuclear” option we can do of a factory or hard reboot, where we push a pin or safety clip into some kind of reset hole. These are longer and more comprehensive resets that can take 10 minutes or longer – does doing these changes your IP address?
If you factory reset your router, your public IP address will change, since all settings are wiped and your ISP will issue your router with a brand new public IP once it has been fully rebooted. The local IP addresses of devices will also changes as the router re-assigns all devices with new local IPs as per it’s DHCP settings.
In other words, a full factory reset is quite a drastic action that will clear all settings on your router, including it’s current public IP address, and lead it to be issued with a new one. For this reason, this can be a way of getting around IP bans, as long as they are solely IP bans and not also account or device bans (see here for guide)
Also, your device’s local IP addresses will also be shuffled around as the router re-does all it’s DHCP assigned, but usually not drastically. Mostly, it’ll just be the last digit of the local IP changes from what it was before you did the reboot (eg. your PC might have had 192.168.0.11 before, but now it has been assigned 192.168.0.3).
On a related topic, if you that your router resets itself periodically, especially at night, this also most often changes the IP address, since there are most often ISP initiated maintenance resets that will cause the router to be issued with a new public IP. This can be annoying when you find the internet shutting off randomly at all hours as your ISP resets it remotely, and when it comes back on, you sometimes find you have to verify logins on accounts, even though you are accessing from exactly the same network you usually do. This is because the maintenance reset changes the public IP that websites detect, which can trigger these login verification checks.
Another very closely related scenario of when you fully unplug your router from the wall, and then plug it back in again. Again, this represents a big enough change in the network environment for the ISP to detect a “break” in the connection, and therefore your router will be issued with a fresh public IP once it comes back online. Power cuts will also have the same effect.
See our guide on router resets and IP addresses for more details.
Does Your Public IP Address Change When You Use A VPN?
Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are an increasingly used piece of software, but do they actually change your IP address? The simple answer is yes – in fact, this is really one of their main functions.
Using a VPN will always change your public IP address, since they route your traffic through encrypted servers and also mask and change your IP address and location, replacing it with a new one based on the VPN server location you select.
Therefore if you do a “before and after” test, checking your public IP address on one of those lookup tools before enabled your VPN, and then after enabling it, you’ll find it does change. Once you open a VPN connection, the IP address and location displayed should match what you selected in the VPN’s interface. In other words, websites think you are visiting from the IP address and location selected within the VPN softwars, not your real, actual location. This reverts back to normal as soon as you disable the VPN connection.
See our article on using VPNs and IP addresses for more details.
Testing Changes In Your Public IP Address
If you actually want to test all these different scenarios out, you can do so using any one of the lookup tools available online for free, which will display your current public/external IP address if your network:
- 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 should change (or not change), when doing any of things listed above.
When Does Your Private/Local IP Address Change? (IPv4)
Local or private IP addresses are less focused on than the public IP addresses displayed on those lookup tools, but they still do change at regular intervals determined by the router’s DHCP settings.
Basically, under IPv4, routers split public IP address into private ones using NAT, as shown in the diagram near the top. And the private/local IP addresses usually run along a couple of common ranges:
- Other local IP ranges exist depending on the router.
The router’s DHCP settings issues each device on the home network with a unique IP, basically with the last digit changing. For example, your PC might have 192.168.0.2, your phone might have 192.168.0.5, your tablet 192.168.0.10, and so on (just examples – will vary on each network).
You can find a device’s current local IP address from it’s Network/Wi-Fi/Internet settings. See our guide on devices for more on finding private IP addresses.
How DHCP Assigns IP Address To Devices
As far as WHEN these local IP addresses change, if you leave your router on it’s default DHCP setting, it will swap or change the local IP addresses of devices at set intervals determined by the DHCP Lease Time of the router.
This is usually around 24 hours by default, but can actually be shortened or lengthened manually by the user from within the router settings. However, whatever it’s set at, this DHCP Lease Time determines the intervals at which the router will change the local IP address of each device connecting to it.
Example – Your laptop is currently connected to your router, and it’s current local IPv4 address is 192.168.0.4. The DHCP Lease Time on your router is set to 168 hours (7 days), so you check again the same time the next week, and the local IP is now 192.168.0.10, because the DHCP Lease Time for your device has expired and the router has swapped out the old local IP for a new one. During all this, you’ve made no other major changes to your router/network/provider/location, so your public IP address remains exactly the same.
If you want to over-ride this default DHCP setting, you can lock or fix an IP address for a device on a network in place permanently to stop it from changing – this is called setting a static IP or reserving an IP for a device on a router. See our guide on doing this for games consoles, but you can do it for any device.