Difference Wiki

MAC vs. IP Address: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sara Rehman || By Sumera Saeed || Published on January 22, 2024
A MAC address is a unique hardware identifier for network devices, while an IP address identifies devices on a network and enables internet communication.

Key Differences

A MAC (Media Access Control) address is a unique identifier assigned to network interfaces for communications at the data link layer of a network segment. An IP (Internet Protocol) address, on the other hand, is assigned to a device connected to a network and facilitates the identification and communication over an IP network like the internet.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024
MAC addresses are permanently assigned to a device's network interface card (NIC) by the manufacturer, making them static and unique worldwide. In contrast, IP addresses can be dynamic, changing with network connection, or static, assigned for prolonged use. They are not inherently tied to the hardware.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024
The format of a MAC address is a 12-digit hexadecimal number, typically displayed in six groups of two digits. IP addresses come in two versions: IPv4, a 32-bit number often expressed in dot-decimal notation, and IPv6, a 128-bit number expressed in hexadecimal notation.
Sara Rehman
Jan 22, 2024
A MAC address operates within the local network to ensure the physical device's identity, while an IP address is used across networks to locate and identify devices globally. This distinction allows MAC addresses to assist in directing data packets on the local network, whereas IP addresses facilitate data transfer across different networks.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024
The role of a MAC address is largely confined to network hardware identification and doesn't change as a device moves between networks. However, an IP address can change when a device switches networks, reflecting its current network location and identity.
Harlon Moss
Jan 22, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Full Form

Media Access Control address
Internet Protocol address
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Nature

Hardware-specific, static
Network location-specific, can be dynamic or static
Sara Rehman
Jan 22, 2024

Format

12-digit hexadecimal
IPv4: 32-bit dot-decimal; IPv6: 128-bit hexadecimal
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Role in Networking

Identifies devices on a local network
Identifies and locates devices across networks
Aimie Carlson
Jan 22, 2024

Assigned By

Manufacturer of the NIC
Network administrator or dynamically by the network
Harlon Moss
Jan 22, 2024
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MAC and IP Address Definitions

MAC

Assigned to network interface cards.
The router recognizes devices by their MAC addresses.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

IP Address

An address for devices on an IP network.
Each device on the internet is assigned an IP address.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

Typically unchangeable and set by the manufacturer.
A device's MAC address stays the same regardless of the network it connects to.
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023

IP Address

Facilitates sending and receiving data online.
The website's IP address directs traffic to the correct server.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

A unique identifier for network devices.
Each network card has a distinct MAC address.
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023

IP Address

Either 32-bit or 128-bit addresses.
IPv4 addresses are running out, leading to the adoption of IPv6.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

Operates at the data link layer.
MAC addresses facilitate local network communication.
Janet White
Dec 18, 2023

IP Address

Can be permanent or change with network.
Her home network assigns a dynamic IP address to her laptop.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

Expressed in 12 hexadecimal characters.
The MAC address is displayed as six groups of two hexadecimal digits.
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023

IP Address

Each active device has a unique IP.
Your IP address can be used to approximate your geographic location.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

Used as a form of address for a man whose name is unknown.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

A mackintosh.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

Clipping of mackintosh
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

Clipping of macaroni
Is there any mac and cheese left?
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

Shortened form of Macintosh, a brand name for a personal computer; as, the latest Mac has great new features.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

A prefix, in names of Scotch origin, signifying son.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

Shortened form of mackintosh, a waterproof raincoat made of rubberized fabric.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

MAC

A waterproof raincoat made of rubberized fabric
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

FAQs

What is a MAC address?

A unique identifier for a device's network interface card.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Can a MAC address be changed?

Generally, MAC addresses are permanently assigned and cannot be changed.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

What is an IP address?

A numeric label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.
Sara Rehman
Jan 22, 2024

How many digits are in a MAC address?

A MAC address consists of 12 hexadecimal digits.
Harlon Moss
Jan 22, 2024

Is a MAC address unique worldwide?

Yes, each MAC address is unique globally.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Is a MAC address visible over the internet?

No, MAC addresses are used locally within a network, not over the internet.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

How is an IP address assigned?

Either dynamically by the network upon connection or statically assigned for fixed use.
Harlon Moss
Jan 22, 2024

Can IP addresses be the same on different networks?

Yes, especially in private networks.
Janet White
Jan 22, 2024

Can IP addresses be tracked?

Yes, they can be used to track the network location of a device.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Do mobile devices have IP addresses?

Yes, when connected to a network.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Do IP addresses provide location information?

They can approximate location, but not as precisely as GPS.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

What are the two types of IP addresses?

IPv4 and IPv6.
Harlon Moss
Jan 22, 2024

Can two devices have the same MAC address?

In theory, no, but MAC address spoofing can occur.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 22, 2024

Who assigns a MAC address to a device?

The device manufacturer.
Harlon Moss
Jan 22, 2024

What layer of networking does MAC operate on?

The data link layer of the OSI model.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 22, 2024

Are MAC addresses relevant for Wi-Fi?

Yes, they identify devices in a Wi-Fi network.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 22, 2024

Why are IPv6 addresses important?

They provide a larger address space than IPv4.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 22, 2024

What happens if an IP address conflict occurs?

Network errors and connectivity issues can arise.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

How do IP addresses affect internet privacy?

They can be used to track online activity and location.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 22, 2024

What is a common format for a MAC address?

Six groups of two hexadecimal digits.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 22, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.

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