Networking can be a little confusing, especially when something you’ve done (or not done) doesn’t make any logical sense whatsoever. You set up a new cable modem and wireless router, and have worse speeds than you did than when you used your older gear. You wire your house with gigabit Ethernet, only to watch your connection switch between gigabit and fast Ethernet for no reason whatsoever.
The weird networking issues continue. Here’s a simple query we received this week from Lifehacker reader Cheryl:
“My public IP address says a whole different city and state. Why is that? The IP address changes as well. Please advise. Who can I contact?”
First off, I wouldn’t sweat it. Really. I’d be a lot more worried about my ISP’s speeds than my external IP address (which you can look up right here). I did that right now, and the site tells me that IP address originates from a California city that’s kind-of close to where I live (about 20–30 minutes away or so), but not exactly where I live. It doesn’t impact my ability to connect to the internet at the regular speeds my roommates and I pay for. All is well.
As for your IP address coming from a different state entirely, that’s completely normal, too. As WhatismyIP.com notes:
“Your IP Location can be found using our IP Lookup tool. No IP Lookup tool is 100% accurate due to many different factors. Some of those factors include where the owner of the IP has it registered, where the agency that controls the IP is located, proxies, cellular IPs, etc. If you are in the US and the controlling agency of the IP is located in Canada, chances are the IP address lookup results will show as Canada. Showing a Canadian IP while in the northern US is very common among mobile users on the Verizon network.”
While this might be annoying if a website or service tries to give you information based on an IP address lookup—like, say, your favorite online mapping app—you’re going to have to deal with this minor annoyance. I feel you on that one, too; I used to have to use the VPN for a company based out of New York City, which would always make Google Maps load not-California, by default, whenever I pulled up the site. I got used to it.
You can try calling your ISP to see if they have any resolution for your issue if it’s really bothering you, but I doubt they’re going to be able to do anything—if the customer service agents even really understand your problem to begin with, to be honest. Your IP address might be tied to your modem’s MAC address on Comcast’s end, and there might not be anything they can actually do about that.
You might also be able to pay your ISP for the privilege of a static IP address, which could better reflect where you actually live, but I wouldn’t waste money on that unless this issue is severely hampering your life. Like I said, it’s an annoyance you’ll have to get used to. And, hey, it could be worse, as our friends at Splinter wrote about in 2016:
“As any geography nerd knows, the precise center of the United States is in northern Kansas, near the Nebraska border. Technically, the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of the center spot are 39°50′N 98°35′W. In digital maps, that number is an ugly one: 39.8333333,-98.585522. So back in 2002, when MaxMind was first choosing the default point on its digital map for the center of the U.S., it decided to clean up the measurements and go with a simpler, nearby latitude and longitude: 38°N 97°W or 38.0000,-97.0000.
As a result, for the last 14 years, every time MaxMind’s database has been queried about the location of an IP address in the United States it can’t identify, it has spit out the default location of a spot two hours away from the geographic center of the country. This happens a lot: 5,000 companies rely on MaxMind’s IP mapping information, and in all, there are now over 600 million IP addresses associated with that default coordinate. If any of those IP addresses are used by a scammer, or a computer thief, or a suicidal person contacting a help line, MaxMind’s database places them at the same spot: 38.0000,-97.0000.
Which happens to be in the front yard of Joyce Taylor’s house.”
Do you have a tech question keeping you up at night? Tired of troubleshooting your Windows or Mac? Looking for advice on apps, browser extensions, or utilities you can use to accomplish a particular task? Let us know! Tell us in the comments below or email [email protected].