What is a MAC Address: At whatever point you tap on a tempting link in a web browser, the website you’re looking at knows to send whatever the link contains to your computer and not your neighbors in light of the fact that your computer sends its IP address, kind of like a return address on an envelope. It turns out IP addresses only get you as far as the modem in your house. These days most of us have tons of things connected to our routers especially wireless phones, laptops, tablets, computers, consoles and Chrome-cast etc. They’re all connected nearly all the freaking time. You don’t really want to be thinking about it so how does your home networking equipment know to send those questionable videos to you and not your parents sitting in the next room. Each device on your network has something called a MAC address. Mac in this case stands for media access control. It identifies which device is which on your local network.
So, here’s how MAC address work:
When data arrives at your home from the worldwide internet, your router needs to decide which device to send that data to. It is keeping track of the MAC addresses of all the devices that are connected. This is also why you usually punch in those numbers to access your routers control panel through your browser. This is very different from a public IP which is what the rest of the internet sees as being your IP address for your entire home network. What comes up when you type what’s my IP address into Google. Your router keeps track of outbound requests such as when you click on a link. So when the data you want arrives at your router it attaches the correct private IP address to the data packets ensuring that they got to your computer or device since all those private IPs correspond to the correct MAC address.
Some mains points regarding Mac address:
- Now computer has both a private IP and a MAC address that can both individually identify. They only tell the data where to go for its next hop. When your data gets to the next device the MAC address is changed in order to tell it where to go next.
- Since your data might go through numerous servers and routers before it finally gets to your device MAC address information is crucial even though you have a private IP.
- Another upside of MAC addresses is that normally they always stay the same with many devices having their MAC addresses hard-coded into the firmware at the factory, making it easy to spot a malfunctioning device on the network if you’re trying to troubleshoot.
- If you want to protect your network by making it so that only devices that you approve can connect many routers use MAC addresses to restrict access to known devices.
- ISPs also use predefined MAC addresses to make it easy to provide you with the service you paid for so, that your neighbor isn’t the one getting that expensive gigabit connection that you’re shelling out money for every month.