Differences Between IP Address and Port Number

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Martynas Klimas
Written by
Martynas Klimas

Updated · Nov 17, 2023

Martynas Klimas
VPN & Technology Copywriter | Joined July 2023 | LinkedIn
Martynas Klimas

Martynas Klimas is a versatile writer, covering various fascinating topics with expertise. He has a ... | See full bio

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Almost 95% of American adults use the Internet. However, despite the massive number, not all users know about the important parts that make the Internet work: IP addresses and port numbers

An IP address is a set of numbers that indicate your device’s location. It is vital to how data is processed on the entire Internet. 

Meanwhile, a port number is an identifier for a specific app or service, depending on the request.  

Most people often confuse port numbers with IP addresses. However, they are significantly different. 

This article will discuss what makes IP addresses and port numbers different. Read on. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Device location is indicated by IP addresses, while applications or services on the device are identified by port numbers.
  • IP addresses serve as online device identifiers available in both IPv4 and IPv6 versions.
  • Port numbers specify processes or applications within a device, with a range from 0 to 65535.
  • Port forwarding involves opening specific ports on a device to let external processes establish connections.
  • Understanding of the distinction between IP addresses and port numbers provides valuable insights into how the Internet functions.

IP Address vs. Port Number 

IP addresses and port numbers are both identifiers that play a vital role in running the Internet. 

Before looking into the differences between IP addresses and port numbers, it would be best to take a closer look at what each label is.  

Defining IP Address

An IP address is like your home address online. IP stands for Internet Protocol. It is a crucial aspect of online communications. 

Each device connected to the Internet has an IP address. It is the only way data can be exchanged. 

Without an IP address, nobody would know where the data is supposed to travel. 

As you do your business online, devices send data requests to one another, and the IP addresses on those requests tell the sending device where the data should go.

An IP address looks like this:

Humans are not great at remembering a bunch of numbers like IP addresses. That is why a website address looks as simple as “www.surfshark.com.” 

Unlike humans, a device does not understand what that is. It will ping a Domain Name System (DNS) to translate a website address into an IPv4 address.

In a Nutshell: 

An IP address serves as the virtual address of your device that ensures data reaches its intended destination. Devices depend on the Domain Name System (DNS) to translate website addresses into the code of IP addresses.

IP Address Versions: IPv4 and IPv6

94% of the internet traffic run on the fourth version of the standardized IP address. IPv4 allows for 32-bit long addresses. 

Currently, there are over 4 billion IPv4 addresses that exist. However, there are not enough IPv4 addresses for all the devices right now. 

This is why a new version is making its way—IPv6. An IPv6 address can be 128-bit long, and it can look like this:


IP addressestransition from IPv4 to IPv6 is happening. However, it will take a lot of time to finish. 

Due to the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses, only the router has a unique address. It’s called the public IP address

Any device connected to the router is assigned a private IP address.

How does a router know where to route the replies addressed to the public? It is supported by the Native Address Translation (NAT) system on your router. 

NAT packages data from devices’ private IPs for sending with the public IP and sorts out the replies. This is the system you’ll have to configure if you want to forward ports. 

Helpful Article: 

Other than public and private or IPv4 and IPv6, IP addresses can also be static or dynamic.

The former offers stability by giving you a constant IP address. While the latter allows you to use different IP addresses periodically. 

Find out what IP address suits your needs by checking out more TechJury articles. 

Understanding Port Number 

A port number is a digital address pointing to a certain process inside a device. It is appended to the IP address. Together, they form the socket address. 

The IP address describes which device the data should go to. Meanwhile, the port number lets the device know what process the data is addressed to. 

Port numbers are 16-bit long and fit in the range of 0 to 65535. They are assigned by Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) automatically. 

A lot of the well-known port addresses are reserved for common practices. Some of these are:

  • 20 is used for File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  • 194 is used by Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
  • 443 is used by HTTPS (the secure version of HTTP)

Typically, port numbers are not a concern for regular users. However, there can be circumstances when you must open the port (called port forwarding). 

Opening the port lets outside processes connect to the device without being asked by the device itself. 

A common example of this is when a user is hosting a game on a computer. They need to open the ports to let other players join. 

The process can be dangerous. It provides a gap in your cyber defenses, and hackers can use it to harm you. 

In a Nutshell:

Port numbers are digital addresses used to identify processes on devices. They range from 0 to 65535 and are assigned by the IANA. Opening ports lets you host games or services, but it can also make devices vulnerable to hackers.

What Makes IP Address and Port Number Different? 

IP addresses and port numbers are very different. However, they are still part of the same process that makes the Internet happen. 

Here are the differences summed up in a chart: 

IP Address

Port Number

Identifies a device on the network

Identifies an application/service on the device 

32-bit long in IPv4 

 128-bit long in IPv6

16-bit long 

Assigned by the ISP or router

Assigned by the device’s operating system 

Used for sending data packages from device to device

Used for delivering the data package to the application on the device 


Example: 2374

Bottom Line

Port numbers and IP addresses are significantly different. 

An IP address is an identifier that represents the device. Meanwhile, a port number represents the application or the service processed on the device. 

However, despite the differences, both the IP address and port number are vital parts of the web. Understanding what they are and how they work helps you get a broader idea of the process that creates the Internet. 

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Where is the port number in the IP address?

The port number is simply added to the end of IP addresses. For example, if you have “” as your IP address, “80” stands for the port number.

What is port 8080 used for?

Port 8080 is a standard port for web servers. Adding a port number to the domain name directs traffic to the web server. This port is not reserved for secondary web servers.

How many ports are in an IP?

How many ports are in an IP?

Can two ports have the same IP address?

Yes, multiple ports can exist and use the same IP address. However, note that applications with the same address cannot use the same port number at the same time.

What is IP without a port number?

An IP with no port is called a dedicated IP. It lets users connect without requiring a port. This is usually used when configuring a domain with your server.


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