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An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a unique number that devices use in order to identify and communicate with each other on a network. Any participating device — including routers, computers, time-servers, etc. — must have its own unique address. This allows information passed onwards on behalf of the sender to indicate where to send it next, and for the receiver of the information to know that it is the intended destination. The numbers currently used in IP addresses range from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.

Many home computers actually have two IP addresses – a local one for communicating on the home network, and an external one for communicating over the internet. When this occurs, a computer will usually report its local address when asked about its IP address. This can often be confirmed by looking at the address, as any address starting with 192.168. is a local address, not useful to people outside the home network. (The home network might consist solely of a computer and a cable modem.) Identifying a computer's external IP address may require connecting to a web site that reports IP addresses. (For example, someone who is not logged in to NWNWiki is identified by IP address, and that address can be seen by editing a talk page, typing ~~~~, and previewing the result. Naturally, the edit should be canceled if this is the only reason for editing the page.)

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