There is a lot of misinformation, concern and confusion about IP addresses, so this post is to simply clarify what an IP Address is and what you should know about it.
First off, the “IP” part of IP address stands for “Internet Protocol.” The “address” part refers to a unique number that gets linked to all online activity you do, comparable to somewhat like a return email address on a email you’d send out. Or as Wikipedia explains, “An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.”
Now this is where the confusion comes in. On any device you use to connect to the internet, an IP Address is generated and each device has its own unique IP Address. Your device first has to connect to an internet service, such as your ISP provider, Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, etc., or you may connect to the internet using a wifi service at your favorite coffee house. Once this connection is established or granted, your device uses the Internet Protocol (basically a bunch of rules) which is responsible for addressing, delivering and routing your online requests precisely. It attaches an “electronic return address” to all your online requests and activity for you. The address it uses is the IP address set up for your connection. Depending on how you access the internet determines your IP Address. For example, when you are at work, your company provides the internet and unique IP Address for your device. If you take this same device home and connect to your home ISP, your IP Address has been changed to a different unique IP Address. If you use the same device using WiFi at your favorite coffee shop this gives you a different unique IP Address.
With an IP Address, one can know basically a close proximity of where an IP Address is located, but not actually know the exact computer. So if you think that someone who obtains your IP Address knows your name and address this is simply not the case. “IP-address search will give you general details only about what is on the end of that IP address,” which is the general location of the device. Source.
Contrary to popular belief, your IP Address isn’t written in stone. It can change, depending on what you do or where you connect to the internet. If you change your cable modem router at home this will create a new, different IP Address than what was created on your old cable modem router. Simply turning your modem on or off may change your IP Address.
This is keeping it simple. It can get real complicated if you want to learn more, like what is the difference between IPv4 and IPv6, IP Blocking and Firewalls, hiding your IP Address, you are on your own since this post is keeping this simple enough to understand what your IP Address is. Hopefully this post will alleviate your concerns about your IP Address.