How to track someone’s IP address

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IP address is short for Internet Protocol address and looks like a numerical label that is linked to a computer network that utilises the internet protocol for purposes of communication. An IP address is a number that provides identification to allow for specific exchanging and sharing of data. Every computer or device that enables you to access the internet has an IP address and this is commonly set up by whichever internet provider you use or server. 

A good way of explaining how IP addresses work is, for example, if you look up a website address then this website is automatically sent your IP address, and this is how it knows where to send the data to share its website with you. The same use happens with email; your email contains your IP address and this allows the user to reply and for information to be sent back to the right place or in the right direction. 

IP addresses look like a series of generated numbers and letters, separated by colons and full stops. Older format IP addresses only contain numbers and full stops. The new format of IP addresses came about because of the rapid growth of internet use and the need to provide greater numbers of IP addresses than was possible with the original format used.

The majority of websites employ a fixed internet protocol address and emails include the IP address that the sender was using at the current time that they sent the email. 

People sometimes want to track the IP address to gain information about the person behind a particular website or even email. There are numerous reasons that a person might want to do this; they may think that tracking the IP address will provide them with specific information about that person’s identity or even specific information about their location to the point of achieving a postal address. Sometimes people want to try to track the IP address of videos uploaded on sites such as You Tube as they wish to identify the person within them or find out where they are. 

IP tracking is not meant to be used as a means to harass or stalk someone. Unwanted communications including emails or posts, unwanted visits or attempts to visit someone, verbal abuse and threats are all forms of harassment and covered by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997; a person who feels that you are acting in a harassing manner towards them can take actions through criminal or civil courts and if your behaviour is deemed unreasonable by a court an injunction can be ordered against you.

An injunction order can prohibit you from directly or indirectly contacting a person (this could include online posts as a means of indirect contact). If you breach an injunction order you could receive a custodial sentence and be sent to prison. 

An IP address trace will not provide you with personal information for the person connected to that IP address. It will also not provide you with a home or postal address; it will get you a general location that the person was in when they were using that particular IP address and when they sent that particular piece of data or communication. Devices can also change IP address. 

Finding the IP address that a person is using can be helpful in becoming informed about the connection and, also, in identifying where the user is. It can assist with connection issues and determining where your data or information is actually going to and if there are any breaches or leaks and your information is not going where you thought it was or wanted it to go. However, when data is sent across the internet it doesn’t always travel in a direct link and data journey can include various “hops” so tracing will be required to get to the original or end user.

IP address tracing can help you to protect your own privacy online and to have control over where your data goes. 

You can trace a website IP address through using the command prompt. This will get you the IP addresses of any devices which are connected to or communicating with your computer and you can then use this to gain information about the longitude and latitude (approximately) of the user and also to determine the internet service provider they are working off.

You need to open the command prompt by typing cmd into the text box after you have simultaneously pressed the windows button with the R button to get this to come up. Click ok and then type in ping and then the URL of the website that you wish to trace to get its IP address and then go ahead with the tracert command which will let you know the IP addresses that your data is being shared with or travelling to.

You then need to use an IP lookup tool which can be found online such as nordvpn, iplookuptool or Neustar. Type the Ips you have into any of these lookup tools and this will provide you with the approximate location of any IP address.

If you are trying to determine the IP address of an individual as opposed to website or company you can trace the IP address of an specific email. You need to open the options menu on the actual email that you want to trace and go to the dropdown menu (most commonly this is located in the three dots that are at the top or bottom of the email).

You need to go to the option that allows you to look at the raw email data and this is usually called something like view original or open raw data on the dropdown menu depending on which browser you use. This will provide you with several IP addresses which you can then enter into any IP lookup tool. This will again allow you to gain information about the approximate latitude and longitude of the user of that IP address.

It is also possible to hide your IP address if you are worried about people determining your location from it, or your internet service provider or the websites you access using this to gain data on you to sell to advertising companies or other service providers.

To hide your IP address you can use a VPN (virtual private network) which encrypts the information you put through the internet and makes it look like your input is coming from somewhere else on the planet; it disguises your actual IP essentially. You could also connect to proxy servers which works by getting in between you and the website you are accessing and providing a different IP address than the one you are actually using. The sites or other places you are accessing or sending information to will see the proxy server’s IP address and not yours.

Tor (The Onion Router) is another way of preventing others from identifying your IP address; it diverts your internet connection through different layers or nodes, a bit like lots of proxies in a line, and also encrypts your connection until the last step of the transmission. All of these methods have their strengths and weaknesses with a VPN probably being the current most favoured and secure option. 

It’s important to ensure that you are using a IP hiding set up (whichever one you choose) for valid and legitimate reasons such as ensuring your own safety and privacy, and not to evade detection or identification if you are undertaking criminal, illegal or abusive activity.

The internet is an incredible and amazing resource and should not be used to do harm to others and but in a healthy and productive way. Police also have software that is more than capable of breaking through a VPN or other IP hiding device so think again if this is your intention!

If you still need help finding a person after reading this article you may want to consult with our tracing agents who can help you find anyone in the UK.

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