Difference Between MAC Address and IP Address

By Mohit Uniyal|Updated : April 19th, 2022

Difference Between MAC Address and IP Address: Both the MAC Address and the IP Address assist in uniquely defining a device on the internet. The Network Interface Controller (NIC) Card’s Manufacturer provides the MAC Address, while the Internet Service Provider(ISP) provides IP Address. 

The IP address of a connecting device basically helps in recognising the connection of a network. The MAC Address ensures the physical location of a computer or device and It helps to identify a given device on the available network uniquely. Here, we will first briefly explore MAC address and IP address and then we will see the complete explanation of the difference between MAC address and IP address. We have discussed and elaborated on the differences in various parameters below.

Table of Content

What is MAC Address?

The Media Access Control (MAC) address refers to a unique identifier that is assigned to a Network Interface Controller/ Card (NIC). It contains a 48 bit or 64-bit address, which is linked and connected with the network adapter. The MAC address can have in hexadecimal format. A MAC address generally exists in six sets of two-digits/characters that are separated by using colons. 

Examples of MAC Address: 00:FF:FF:AB:BB: AA or 00-FF-FF-AB-BB-AA (In these examples, The first half of the address is typically used as a manufacturer ID, while the second half of an address is a device identifier).

What is IP Address?

An Internet Protocol (IP) address is an address that helps you to identify a network connection. IP Address is named as the ‘Logical Address’, which is provided to a connection in a present network.

IP address helps in controlling devices how to communicate on the Internet and also, defines the behaviour of internet routers. There are two types of IP addresses one is IPv4 Address and the second is IPv6 Address.

The IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses in dotted notations, while the IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses in hexadecimal notations.

Examples of Internet Protocol (IP) address:  IPv4 192.168.1.1 and IPv6  FFFF:F200:3204:0B00

What is the Difference Between MAC Address and IP Address?

As we have seen a brief introduction about MAC Addresses and IP Addresses. We will now explore the difference between MAC Address and IP Address. The major differences between these two languages are explained in the table provided below:

Difference Between MAC Address and IP Address

MAC Address

IP Address

MAC Address means Media Access Control Address.

IP Address means Internet Protocol Address.

Media Access Control (MAC) Address is a six-byte hexadecimal address.

Internet Protocol (IP) Address is either a four-byte (IPv4) address or a sixteen-byte (IPv6) address.

The computer attached with MAC Address can recover by ARP protocol.

The computer attached with IP Address can recover by RARP protocol.

Network Interface Controller/ Card’s Manufacturer gives the MAC Address

Internet Service Provider gives the IP Address.

MAC Address provides the physical address of a computer/device.

IP Address gives the logical address of the computer/device.

It operates in the data link layer.

It operates in the network layer.

This Address helps in identifying the device.

This Address identifies the connection of a connected device on the network.

MAC Address of a device cannot be changed with time and condition.

The IP Address of a device modifies with the time and condition.

Third-party can’t find the MAC Addresses easily.

Third-party can find the IP Addresses easily

This is a 48-bit address that consists of 6 groups of 2 hexadecimal digits, separated by either colons(.) or hyphens (-).

Example:

00:FF:FF:AB:BB:AA or 00-FF-FF-AB-BB-AA

In this IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses with dotted notations, while IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses with hexadecimal notations.

Example: IPv4 192.168.1.1 and IPv6  FFFF:F200:3204:0B00

In MAC addressing, no classes are used.

The classes used in IPv4 are A, B, C, D, and E for IP addressing.

Sharing is not allowed in MAC Addresses.

Multiple devices can share the IP address.

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FAQs

  • The major difference between MAC address and IP address is that IP addresses are applied to uniquely find the connection of the network with that connecting device. While the MAC Address is used to provide the physical address of the device/computer. This address uniquely identifies the devices on a network.

  • The MAC (Media Access Control) address refers to a unique identifier that is assigned to a Network Interface Card/ Controller. This address has a 64-bit or 48-bit address linked and connected to the disturbed network adapter. These Addresses can exist in a hexadecimal format. This MAC address exists with six separate sets of two characters/ digits – separated from each other using dots or colons.

  • An Internet Protocol (IP) address helps in identifying a network connection. IP Address is a 'logical Address’ that provided a connection in a present network.

    This also helps in controlling devices how to communicate on the Internet and defines the behaviour of internet routers. There are two types of IP addresses one is IPv4 Address and the second is IPv6 Address.

    Examples of Internet Protocol (IP) address:  IPv4 192.168.1.1 and IPv6  FFFF:F200:3204:0B00

  • The main function of MAC is to allow an addressing mechanism and channel access so that each node present on a network can communicate with the other nodes that are available on the same or other networks.

  • The main purpose of an IP address is to manage the connection between the devices that transmit information across the available network. The IP address uniquely recognizes every device on the available internet; without one, there's no way to contact them.

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