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IP Address Vs MAC Address.

Lets, Try to debug the difference between IP address and MAC address.

Most of us might not have faced the scenario when we need to share our IP address or Mac address with the networking team or internet service provider, but it is something for which we should have an understanding.

We need to understand the basics of MAC address and IP address, as we will come across these terms a lot of time in our lifetime.

MAC Address

MAC address stands for media access control address, and in very layman, which is a burned-in address. MAC addresses are written into the hardware by the manufacturer into their ROM(Read-only memory), which is permanent in nature, specifically, it is assigned to the Network interface card of the device during the manufacturing of the product. MAC address is the physical address that is present on the Datalink layer. MAC address is a 48-bit address, in which starting 24 bit is Organisational Unique Identifier (OUI) and the rest 24 bits are specific to vendors. Here you can find a very cumulative Github's gist containing vendor-specific code (Click to reach). If anyone of us is interested in trying to learn all of them. Just saying. MAC address is a 12 digit hexadecimal number, in which the first 6 digits are called OUI, which can’t be changed. It is embedded into the Network interface card given by the manufacturer which is, of course, unique per manufacturer. The IEEE is the organisation that provides a unique identifier to different manufacturers, just to maintain the standards. Since MAC address is unique it is required to communicate with other devices in the network with the help of an IP address. Both IP address and MAC address mary each other to have a working communication within the network. Let’s take for example if the MAC addresses for two devices are the same, although it is not advisable. Now the devices are connected to the same network. Whenever one device tries to connect with another device, it won't be able to communicate its packets, since the network won't be able to locate which device traffic needs to be sent. If you are willing to know about the MAC address of your device, visit this link. This has a good step by step guide of the way you can follow to get your MAC address, based upon your operating system. There are multiple types of MAC addresses.

  1. Unicast MAC address: Unicast MAC address is when you want to send the message to any single mac address.

  2. Multicast MAC address: Multicast MAC address is when you want to send the message to any multiple mac addresses.

  3. Broadcast MAC address: Broadcast MAC address is when you want to send the message to all the systems on the network.

Internet Protocol

Internet Protocol Address or IP address is a virtual address provided by an internet service provider (ISP). Since it is provided by ISP it is used to connect to the internet to help the device to be recognised over the internet or local internet. As we all know the internet is the connection of different devices with each other, the IP address provided to an individual device, helps it to communicate with others. An IP address is represented by 4 digits separated by dots, for example( X.X.X.X) and X range from 0 to 255. Like Mac address, the IP address is also not generated randomly, but ICANN provides this address to specific servers. If you are curious to know about your IP address you can visit this website and find it for you. Click to reach Generally, the IP addresses are given to your server where our website is deployed. A DNS like ( are attached to that IP address. So for any layman, it is not very required to learn the IP addresses linked to the websites. We just need to remember the DNS and it will automatically redirect to the IP address. As once we purchase an available Domain name, we have the leverage to map that DNS to our IP address. Every packet of messages which is transferred from source to destination contains the IP address of both the location, without which the communication is not possible. It must be clear as of now that IP addresses fixed addresses which change every time we try to connect to a new Wifi connection. IP address VS MAC Address So we all can agree that Mac addresses are static and do not change whether we connect to different connections even by switching to another Wifi address or Internet connection, but on the other hand, IP address is totally dynamic and it keeps on changing. MAC addresses are the ones that are embedded into the Network interface card, which is permanent in nature and done while manufacturing the device. Unlike Mac address, the IP address is configured to a device while it connects with the network. The IP address works as an address for the device to transfer information to and from it. Since IP addresses are dynamically assigned to the device so it becomes logical, contrary the MAC address is a physical address as it is embedded onto the system. Various big company shares the IP address amongst their devices but they don't share the MAC address as it can’t be shared if related to a particular device. Last the difference between them is the way we write the IP address i.e. separated by dots versus MAC address which are separated by a colon. Although there is a gazillion difference between them both, we should be at least be aware of the bare minimum.

Final Thoughts

IP address and MAC address both play crucial roles in setting a network and allow different devices to communicate with each other. The IP address allows the entire internet to work, as told earlier all the websites which we access have an IP address attached to the server on which the application is deployed. If you want to understand What Happens Whenever You Type a Website URL in the Browser? do read about it. you will get a better understanding of the logic behind IP address work. Hope now you must be clear with a basic idea about IP address and MAC address. Try to find your system's IP address and Mac Address using the links I have shared. Get your IP address: Click to reach Get your MAC address: Click to reach Originally Published on


About The Author Apoorv Tomar is a Software developer and part of Mindroast. You can connect with him on Twitter, Linkedin, Telegram and Instagram. Subscribe to the newsletter for the latest curated content. Don’t hesitate to say ‘Hi’ on any platform, just stating a reference of where did you find my profile



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