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What Is a Private IP Address?

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Question: What Is a Private IP Address?
Using a private IP address on a residential or business computer can improve network security and conserve public addressing space. What does a private IP address look like? What IP address ranges qualify as private?
Answer: An IP address is considered private if the IP number falls within one of the IP address ranges reserved for private uses by Internet standards groups. These private IP address ranges exist:
    10.0.0.0 through 10.255.255.255
    169.254.0.0 through 169.254.255.255 (APIPA only)
    172.16.0.0 through 172.31.255.255
    192.168.0.0 through 192.168.255.255

Private IP addresses are typically used on local networks including home, school and business LANs including airports and hotels.

Devices with private IP addresses cannot connect directly to the Internet. Likewise, computers outside the local network cannot connect directly to a device with a private IP. Instead, access to such devices must be brokered by a router or similar device that supports Network Address Translation (NAT). NAT hides the private IP numbers but can selectively transfer messages to these devices, affording a layer of security to the local network.

Standards groups created private IP addressing to prevent a shortage of public IP addresses available to Internet service providers and subscribers.

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