Both MAC address and IP address are used to identify a machine on the Internet. MAC address vs IP address: which to pick? If you also wonder that, read this post now! Here, MiniTool introduces the two addresses respectively and then compares them from several aspects.

Before learning the difference between MAC address and IP address, you should get an overview of them.

What Is MAC Address

As the MAC (Media Access Control) address is linked to the hardware of the network adapters, they are also known as the “hardware address” or “physical address”.  It is a 48-bit or 64-bit address that is used to uniquely identify the adapter on the LAN.

The MAC address is usually expressed in hexadecimal notation. For instance, a 48-bit MAC address may be expressed as “01-23-45-67-89-AB”, and a 64-bit one might be written as “01-23-45-67-89-AB-CD-EF”.  Sometimes, colons (:) are used rather than dashes (-).

Though MAC addresses are often considered permanent, they can be changed under some conditions. They work at the data link layer of the OSI model. There are three types of MAC addresses. They are Unicast MAC address, Multicast MAC address, and Broadcast MAC address.

What Is IP Address

IP (Internet Protocol) address mainly helps you identify the connection of a network. It is also called logical address, which defines how Internet routers behave and allows you to regulate how devices communicate over the Internet.

It is software-based assigned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Network Administrator which varies based on time and location. It is either a four or sixteen-byte address. Actually, it is numerical representation of a network interface that serves as its sole means that of identification like For instance, you may see IP addresses like,,, etc.

An IP address contains four components. 

  • First octet – the IP’s first digit (123)
  • Second octet – the IP’s second number (89)
  • Third octet, or the third IP digit (46)
  • The fourth and last number of the IP is the fourth octet (72)

Now, it’s time to discuss IP address vs MAC address. You’ll find the difference between MAC address and IP address in the section below.

MAC Address vs IP Address

MAC vs IP address: what’s the difference? Pay attention to the content below!

MAC address is assigned by the manufacturer of the hardware interface, while the IP address is assigned by the network administrator or Internet Service Provider (ISP).

MAC address is a unique hardware identification number, which is assigned to a NIC (Network Interface Controller/Card). Differently, the IP address is an address that helps you identify a network connection.

The MAC address defines the identity of the device, while the IP address describes how the device is connected to the network.

MAC addresses are used for broadcasting, whereas IP addresses are used for broadcasting or multicasting.

MAC and IP addresses are vital to a computer network and Internet setup. To be specific, MAC address is associated with the computer, while the IP address is related to the Internet used by the computer. Simply put, they are used to locate a device on the Internet.

The two addresses work in different level. The MAC address operates in the data link layer, while the IP address operates in the network layer.

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Further reading:

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