Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

I have a friend in Ukraine who uses gotomypc.com for remote access to work on my computer here in California. Gotomypc records the IP address of each computer when connected. Is it possible that her connection would cause several different IP addresses to appear in gotomypc, even though she is operating from one computer and one connection? Or is that impossible and that different IP addresses definitely mean different computers?

I hate when I have to say this:

Maybe.

It depends on several things, but most importantly how your Ukrainian friend is connected to the internet.

If your friend has been assigned a static IP address by her ISP, then I would expect to see only that IP address when she connects.

That's pretty simple, and unfortunately, probably the least likely scenario.

What's more likely is that she has what's called a "dynamic" IP address. That means that her ISP will automatically assign an IP address to her computer each time she connects to the internet. That IP address could be the same from one time to the next, or it could be quite different.

Even if she stays connected continuously, if she's getting a dynamic IP address, it can still change. Typically that's very infrequent, but it's completely at the whim of her ISP's networking equipment.

So is there anything you can tell about the situation?

"..her ISP will automatically assign an IP address to her computer each time she connects to the internet. That IP address could be the same from one time to the next, or it could be quite different."

I'd look at two things: how often you're seeing a different IP address, and how close (numerically) those IP addresses are to each other.

Say your friend connects to the internet once a day, and stays connected for several hours. It's likely, then, that you should see one IP address each day, though it might be different from day to day. If she connects and disconnects 10 times a day? Then you might see 10 different IP addresses. If she stays connected continuously, then I'd personally expect it to change no more than once a day. It could change more often, but I believe that would be rare.

Regardless of how often the IP address changed, it'd be interesting also to see if the IP addresses "relate" to one another. For example aaa.bbb.ccc.1 and aaa.bbb.ccc.2 - addresses that differ only in the lowest number - are likely to be from the same ISP. On the other hand, IP addresses that differ in the first number - 1.xxx.yyy.zzz and 2.xxx.yyy.zzz for example - rarely come from the same provider.

If the timing of the accesses matches your friends access, one additional concrete step you can take is to visit the ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers) "whois" lookup (whois.arin.net) to look up the ISP that owns each specific IP address you're seeing. If they all belong to the same ISP, then I'd be more confident that the accesses are probably from the same computer. Certainly if they do not come from the same ISP, I'd start to get concerned.

Article C2663 - May 23, 2006 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

7 Comments
Chris
May 24, 2006 12:41 AM

Actually, the first number of the IP changing with it being the same ISP isn't so unlikely. For example, they may have a block of IPs between 70.0.0.1 and 72.255.255.255 or something. When my IP changed (it is technically dynamic, but it stays the same for months) it went from 80.xxx.xxx.xxx to 81.xxx.xxx.xxx.

Leo
May 24, 2006 12:54 PM

True enough, which is why I referenced the ARIN lookup to further validate the source of the IP. But the higher order numbers changing is rare - it's much more likely that an ISP will assign the same connections out of the same lower order range. As you've seen, not impossible, just rare.

Pam
July 6, 2007 5:44 AM

Hi. But I have another question. What if the IP is the same, but the computer isn't? For example, the IP is the same, but one time it was a Mac, another a PC? Does it mean it's the same person in the same building? Could it be another location?

Zack
March 5, 2009 3:17 AM

I understand about the Ip's that are static and dynamic. My question is if for example a person lives in Atlanta, can the Ip show up sometimes from Altlanta directly or can it show up sometimes show up as being within close proximity of Atlanta and also can the IP number on tis change even within close proximity? I aks this question because someone i know and know their original Ip adress always or most always showed up as a certain location with the same IP,, however recently i have been getting "views" from places that are suburbs of Atlanta. The reason i ask is that i know no one else within this area, but reently the IP's numbers have changed, yet still remain similar and are within a near location.

Depends entirely on the ISP. Possible, but there's no way to know for sure.
- Leo
05-Mar-2009

Melanie
July 31, 2010 3:25 PM

Hi !! Leo--can you please help me to solve this mystery of this case? I had came to know a man a year ago and we kept in touch for almost a year now by emails, smses and phone calls.We had met but we both live in different countries.He lives in California.As I read his emails within this one year, he sent me emails from different IP addresses from Sunnyvale, California to Australia Perth, from Mexico to Houston, from London to Australia Sydney.The whole mystery is he is a handicapped person mobility is impossible for him to move about and staying put in California. So how do one explain the emails he sent to me with completely different IP addresses which literally from other countries?? I am puzzled !!!!PLEASE HELP TO EXPLAIN.

Bunga
June 21, 2011 8:04 PM

Hi Leo,

I know someone from Texas and he lives there, but when i checked his email header by a website, it said that his IP address is from India, what is that mean? Plz explain to me. Thank you

Mark J
June 21, 2011 11:48 PM

@Bunga
Are you sure he is in Texas? IP addresses may not pinpoint your exact location but they usually get the country right unless they are sending the email using a proxy. For example, yours tells me you are in Indonesia.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.