Learn how to track an IP address, and why you'd want to

Written by: Lisa Whelan

Tracking an IP address can help you gather information about the physical location of a device that’s connected to the internet. It can also reveal some technical and contextual information, such as whether the device is being used for residential or commercial purposes.

What is an IP address?

Every device that is connected to a network (such as the internet) has an IP address that network systems use to identify and locate them. For example, when you browse the web, your device sends data packets containing your request to the IP address of a website’s server, and the website’s server sends its reply back to the IP address your request came from.

When you browse the internet, your router assigns a private IP address to your device. Every device on your local network has its own private IP. Your ISP assigns a public IP address to your router, which uses Network Address Translation (NAT) to allow all your devices to communicate over the internet using this public IP.

Similarly, every website you visit is hosted on a web server that has its own IP address. Multiple websites can share the same IP address if they are hosted on the same server or within the same hosting environment. The web server’s IP address functions as the website’s location on the internet, so that your device can find and access it.

Both your IP address and the website’s IP address can be traced, but for different reasons. Your IP address might be traced to track your online activity, approximate your location, or troubleshoot connection issues, whereas a website’s IP address can be tracked to identify the server hosting it, or for legal purposes.

Can you track an IP address?

You can track an IP address to reveal general location information of the device that is using that IP address, identify the device’s ISP, or find other websites using the same address.

You can track the IP address of any device that’s connected to the internet. For example:

  • Your own IP address (for example, to make sure your IP address has changed after connecting to a proxy server)
  • Another person’s IP address (for example if you manage a website and want to detect fraudulent activity or unauthorized access)
  • A website or other online service’s IP address (for example, to block access to it on your home network)

What information can you get from an IP address?

An IP address can reveal basic information about your geographical location, your ISP, and the type of device you are using to connect to the internet.

Public or private IP

For example, if your IP address is, the first two numbers (192.168) indicate that the IP address is a private one - that means it's in a home or business network. This is because the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has reserved some numbers for private networks.

The ranges for private networks are:

  • to
  • to
  • to


You can use an IP address lookup tool to find the general physical location of the IP address. This is because ISPs assign IP addresses to their customers in specific regions, and IP lookup tools use this information to estimate the location associated with the IP address.

Some websites use geolocation services to look up your IP address to tailor their content or services based on your location. For example, they can show you content in your local language or currency, or show you targeted advertisements.

Try the SOAX IP lookup tool

Website information

You can uncover some information about a website by tracking the IP address of its server. Some of the details you can find out include:

  • Hosting provider: You can use an IP lookup tool to reveal the company or data center that hosts the website’s server.
  • Location: The IP address of a website’s server can give you a general estimate of the server’s location.
  • Registration information: You can use a WHOIS lookup to discover the name of the person or organization who registered the domain, the domain registrar, and registration dates, and contact details. (This may not be the case if the registrant has used a privacy protection service to mask their personal information.)

Information you can’t get from an IP address

There are some popular misconceptions about the kinds of information you can reveal from an IP address.

  • Pinpointing exact location: While an IP address can provide a general location, it rarely reveals an exact street address or specific coordinates.
  • Unmasking personal identity: An IP address alone can’t directly reveal someone’s name, phone number, or other identifiable information.
  • Real-time tracking: An IP address doesn’t provide real-time movement updates.
  • True IP address: If someone is using a proxy server or a VPN to mask their real IP address, you can’t use their proxy server’s IP address to find their location information – you will only see the estimated location of the proxy server.

Reasons to trace an IP address

There are many reasons why an individual or an organization could want to track an IP address, including for personal reasons, security, or content management.

Personal reasons to track an IP address

  • Verifying IP changes: You can track your own IP address to confirm that a VPN or proxy server is working correctly. For example, you can check your IP address before and after connecting to the proxy server to make sure that you are hiding your private IP address.
  • Identifying suspicious logins: Some online services notify you when there has been a suspicious login attempt from an unrecognized IP address. You can look up the IP address to check where the login attempt came from.

IP tracking for security reasons

  • Blocking attacks: Websites under Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks can track and block suspicious traffic if it originates from specific IP addresses.
  • Identifying malicious actors: When hackers breach a website’s security, website administrators may track the hackers’ IP addresses as part of their investigation.
  • Fraud prevention: Ecommerce companies and financial institutions track IP addresses to flag suspicious activity. A purchase attempt from an unusual location (compared to a customer’s usual IP address) might trigger a request for verification to prevent fraud.

Tracking an IP address for content management

  • Geo-blocking: Websites with region-restricted content (such as streaming services) can use your IP address to determine your location and show you region-specific content.
  • Localization: Websites can use IP addresses to offer a personalized experience, for example by displaying product prices in your local currency.

How to track IP addresses

Anyone can trace an IP address for free using an online IP lookup tool, which will give you basic location and ISP information. If you don’t already have the IP address you want to track, you may be able to find it by using Command Prompt (Windows) or Terminal (macOS), or in an email header.

How to track an IP address using an IP lookup tool

IP lookup tools are easy to use and show varying amounts of information depending on which one you choose.

  1. Choose an IP lookup tool (for this example, we’ll use the SOAX IP lookup tool).
  2. Enter the IP address you want to track into the search bar and click Get IP details.
  3. Find the details you need in the results. Most IP lookup tools will give you the general location of the IP address, including the country and region, and what ISP the device uses.

whats my ip

How to track an IP address in Command Prompt or Terminal

If you have a Windows, macOS, or Linux device, you can use the ping or tracert/traceroute commands in Command Prompt or Terminal to get information about a website’s IP address.


The ping command sends data packets to the IP address of the website and waits for a response. If successful, Terminal or Command Prompt shows statistics like the time it takes for the packets to reach the destination and return. While ping doesn’t directly reveal a website’s location, it does confirm the IP address and that the device using that IP address is reachable.

Here is an example of what ping output might look like:

PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=12ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=11ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=10ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=13ms
Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 10ms, Maximum = 13ms, Average = 11ms

To ping the website you want to trace, open Command Prompt or Terminal on your device, and type “ping” followed by the URL of the website. For example: “ping www.google.com”. The Command Prompt or Terminal window will return the IP address of the website, which you can then enter into an IP lookup tool for more information.


The traceroute (macOS/Linux) or tracert (Windows) command sends out a series of data packets, each with a limited lifespan, towards the IP address of a website. By tracking how long each packet takes to elicit a “time exceeded” response from a router and then stopping, traceroute can reveal the sequence of routers a data packet travels through to reach its destination. While it doesn’t provide an exact location, traceroute helps you visualize the route data packets take.

Here is an example of what a traceroute output might look like:

traceroute google.com
Tracing route to google.com [] on undefined, 64 hops max, 50 byte packets
1 <1 ms <1 ms <1 ms (Your Router)
2 2 ms 2 ms 2 ms (Your ISP's Router)
3 * * * Request timed out
4 * * * Request timed out
5 * * * Request timed out
6 17 ms 18 ms 17 ms (Regional ISP Router)
7 18 ms 19 ms 18 ms (Backbone Router)

To run the traceroute/tracert command on the website you want to trace, open Command Prompt or Terminal and type “tracert” (Command Prompt) or “traceroute” (macOS/Linux). You can copy and paste the resulting IP addresses into an IP lookup tool.

How to track an IP address from an email

It is technically possible to track IP addresses from an email someone else has sent to you. However, many email providers remove the sender’s IP address before delivering the message. In these cases, you will only be able to extract the IP address of the email server that sent the message to you, not the sender’s own machine.

To check your email headers for IP addresses, you need to go into the options menu for the message you want to track, and select the option to view the email’s headers. In Gmail, for example, this option is called Show original.

Gmail show original

This option will open a new tab that shows the email’s complete technical information including the email headers. The headers contain details about the email’s journey from sender to receiver.

In this technical information, you need to locate the Received lines. Ideally, the last Received line might contain the sender’s IP address. However, this is not always the case. It might be the sender’s IP address, but it could be the IP address of an intermediary server.

Avoid IP blocks with SOAX

If you want to avoid content restrictions and IP bans, you can use SOAX proxies to mask your real IP address. We have a vast pool of IPs that you can use for static sessions or set to rotate, ensuring you never trigger limitations or bans due to excessive activity from a single address. You can get full access to our proxy features with a three-day trial for just $1.99.

Frequently asked questions

How do I find the location of an IP address?

You can find the general location (city, country) of an IP address using online IP lookup tools. These websites maintain databases that map IP addresses to geographic locations based on ownership information. However, the location information might not be accurate, especially for mobile or residential connections, or for those who are using a proxy server.

Can I find out who owns an IP address?

You can often find the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that owns a specific IP address range, or the hosting provider of a website’s IP address. This won't reveal the individual user, but it can tell you the company that is providing internet access or hosting services.

Can an IP address identify me?

An IP address by itself usually doesn't identify a specific person. It typically points to a network connection, which could be used by multiple devices or people in a household or office. However, in some cases, combined with other information, an IP address could be used to identify an individual. This is more likely in situations where law enforcement or a legal entity obtains user data from their ISP.


Lisa Whelan

Lisa is a content professional, specializing in tech and cybersecurity. She's here to share valuable insights and break down complex technical concepts for the SOAX audience.

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