Is it just us, or do you too get confused by seemingly identical terms “Mac Address vs IP address?” We know that these terms have something to do with communication between devices, but how exactly are they different from each other? What are their purposes? And why do we need them exactly?
Let’s put this confusion to bed and discuss the key difference between Mac address and IP address in detail.
Key Differences: MAC Address vs IP Address
Here are the key differences between the MAC address vs IP address:
|IP Address stands for “Internet Protocol Address.”||MAC Address stands for Media Access Control Address.|
|A device associated with IP Address can be retrieved by RARP Protocol.||A device associated with MAC Address can be retrieved by ARP Protocol.|
|The IP address is a four-byte (IPV4) or a sixteen-byte (IPv6) address.||MAC address is a six-byte hexadecimal address.|
|The IP address is the logical address of your PC.||This address is used to verify the physical address of a computer.|
|Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) usually provides the IP address.||MAC address is usually provided by NIC Card’s Manufacturer.|
|IP Addresses can be changed with time, place, or environment.||MAC address usually remains constant and cannot be modified with time and environment.|
|It helps to identify the device connected to the network.||It helps in locating and identifying the device.|
|It operated in the network layer.||It operates in the data link layer.|
|Any third-party or website owner can find your IP address.||Mac addresses cannot be detectable easily.|
|IPv4 uses a 32-bit address in decimal forms, whereas IPV6 contains a 128-bit address in hexadecimal notations.|
It uses 48-bit addresses consisting of 6 groups of 2 hexadecimal digits, separated by colons ( : ) or Hyphens (-).
|Multiple connected devices over the same network can share the IP address.||Sharing of Mac Address is not permissible.|
|IP addresses are divided into different types and IP classes.||Mac Addresses are not classified into classes.|
Now that you know the difference between MAC address vs IP address, let’s jump into the details of each term individually to see why they are important in communication.
What is the Mac Address?
MAC address, also known as Media Access Control address, is a unique address allocated to a network interface controller (NIC). It comes in the form of a 48-bit address or a 68-bit address, which are used as a network address in communications within a network layer.
Such type of communication is commonly used in several IEEE 802 networking technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet. Most Mac addresses consist of six sets of two-digits or characters separated by colons.
Characteristics of Mac Address
Following are the important characteristics of a MAC address:
- It does not provide information about physical or logical network configuration.
- Devices using MAC addresses cannot route traffic efficiently.
- MAC addresses are used to identify a particular NIC in the communication.
- The MAC address is incorporated in the Data-Link Layer of the TCP/IP reference model.
Why do we need a MAC address?
MAC addresses can be needed for the following reasons:
- To identify a specific device connected to the Wi-FI networks at the airport.
- It is a unique address; thus, it can be used to track the device.
- It also helps you to avoid unwarranted network access.
- It provides a secure method to identify the senders and receivers over a particular network.
What is the IP address?
An Internet Protocol address (or an IP address) is a unique address provided by your ISP to your device for communication. It is also called “Logical Address,” which helps you to identify a network connection. These addresses define Wi-Fi routers’ behavior and help you control the number of devices connected to the network. Basically, it acts like a telephone number used by your devices to communicate with each other or to a third-party device.
Characteristics of an IP address
Here’s the list of some important characteristics of an IP address:
- It is a numeric label assigned to every connected device.
- It helps identify the location of your device and the behavior of internet routers. It also allows you to control the number of devices connected to a particular network.
- These addresses are usually assigned by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
- You can change your IP address using different VPN or proxy tools. Check out which method is the securest here. The proxy connection does indeed help you change your IP address on Mac, but the connection itself doesn’t offer any encryption and security towards your online traffic.
- IP addresses consist of 32-bit (4 bytes) or 128-bits (16 bytes) long addresses.
- These addresses are classified into various sub-categories such as A, B, C, D, and E.
- There are two basic types of IP addresses: Private IP address and Public IP address. Check out the differences between Public vs Private IP in our guide.
Why do we need an IP address?
IP addresses are needed for the following reasons:
- To identify the technical format of the addressing and packaging scheme over a network.
- It serves as an identifier for a specific device on a particular network.
- To handle the connection between devices that send and receive information across a network.
- To establishes a virtual connection between a source and a destination. It uniquely identifies every device on the network; there’s no way to contact them without it.
- It also helps identify your location over the internet to have a personalized browsing experience.
FAQ – IP vs Mac IP address
How do I know my MAC or IP address?
To find your MAC or IP address, type ipconfig/ all at the command prompt and check the network card settings. The IP address and Mac address will be listed under the relevant adapter as Physical address or IPV4 address. You can copy this address by right-clicking on the command prompt and then selecting Mark.
How do IP addresses and MAC addresses work together?
The IP address is used to transport data from one network to another via TCP/IP protocol. On the other hand, the MAC address is used to deliver data to the right device on a network. There’s no Mac Vs IP address! In fact, these addresses work together to deliver the right information from the correct source to the correct destination.
Can a device have more than one MAC address?
Yes. MAC address is assigned to every network interface on your device. For example, if your PC has both Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port, you will see two MAC addresses in the system configuration.
The internet works in the same manner as the regular postal service. Instead of a home address, we have IP addresses. Instead of names, we use MAC addresses. Together, they deliver the information to the right door. Hopefully, now you understand what’s the dilemma behind MAC Address Vs IP Address, what they do, and why we need them. If you still have any confusion, feel free to reach out to us in the comment section below.