A MAC address and an IP address are both like names for a device on a network, but they serve different purposes.
A MAC address is like a very unique name tag that is physically attached to a device. It helps other devices on the same network identify the device and communicate with it. It’s like if you went to a party and you had a special hat or shirt that only you wore, and everyone could recognize you by that special item.
An IP address, on the other hand, is like an address or location for a device on a network. It identifies where the device is located on the network, and it helps other devices on the network find it. It’s like if you went to a big neighborhood, and each house had a unique address so that people could find the right house.
So, in summary, a MAC address is like a unique identifier that helps devices on the same network recognize and communicate with each other, while an IP address is like an address or location that helps devices on a network find each other.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the differences between MAC and IP addresses.
A MAC address, or Media Access Control address, is a unique identifier assigned to the network interface of a device, such as a computer or a phone. This identifier is assigned by the manufacturer and is stored on the network interface’s hardware. The MAC address is usually a combination of letters and numbers and consists of six groups of two digits, separated by colons or hyphens. Each group represents a byte, or eight bits, of the address.
When a device is connected to a network, it uses its MAC address to communicate with other devices on the same network. The MAC address is used to direct data packets to the correct device on the network. So, for example, if you’re on a Wi-Fi network and you send a message to your friend’s laptop, your device will use your friend’s laptop’s MAC address to ensure that the message gets to the right device.
An IP address, or Internet Protocol address, is a numerical label assigned to each device on a network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address consists of a series of numbers separated by periods, such as “192.168.1.1”. IP addresses are used to identify and locate devices on a network. In contrast to MAC addresses, which are unique to each device and do not change, IP addresses can change depending on the network configuration.
When you send data over a network, your device uses the recipient’s IP address to route the data to the right destination. Think of IP addresses as being like street addresses: just as you need a street address to find a physical location, you need an IP address to find a device on a network.
To summarize, MAC addresses are unique identifiers assigned to a device’s network interface that are used to ensure that data packets get to the correct device on a network. IP addresses are numerical labels assigned to each device on a network that are used to identify and locate devices on the network.