Determine physical location of IP addresses with these resources

IP addresses on the Internet are not usually very useful, even when resolved to DNS names. IT pro Rick Vanover provides a few resources for matching IP addresses to specific locations.

For any of us that administer some sort of Web-facing resource, logging the IP addresses is necessary but not always very useful by itself. I've found it important to have resources lined up that allow me to get a little more information about the addresses that are logged.

For Web server logs, LogMeIn connected IP addresses, and simply checking into my own IP address when using public Internet access, simply having the IP address is not enough information. I've used two strategies to get detailed Internet IP address information. One is the free product demo of IP2Location and others include generic Web queries with this Whois query resource that doesn't offer domains for sale.

Available for free on the Web, these services allow you to put in a TCP/IP address and determine geocoded information. The commercial applications from IP2Location are available among other things to allow Web programmers to put logic into Web-based code to enforce geographic laws, offer products and services relevant to users in designated locations, or provide more descriptive logging.

Using the IP2Location Web engine is pretty reliable. I took a sample of all my systems that I support via LogMeIn, and each entry was correct. For each of these systems I am very familiar with the Internet connection, location, and users involved with them. The one curve ball was one system that uses a mobile broadband connection. The IP2Location information was correct to the provider, but the location was not as specific as it could have been.

To use the IP2Location Web tool, simply place a TCP/IP into the Live Product Demo field. Very detailed results are then returned by the Web service. Figure A below shows a sample query.

Figure A

Figure A

Click to enlarge.

For corporations that reserve their IP address space, those names will frequently display as the owners of the addresses. Yet, this type of query is not flawless. In the case of corporate Internet connectivity, there are plenty of scenarios where the location would display the Internet connection point and not the actual Web browser or endpoint location as wide area networks or other network technologies may be in use.

The IP2Location Web service is probably one of the quickest ways to get a lot of information about a specific IP address without the added step of resolving it to a DNS name. How do you get curious on IP address information? Share your comments below.


Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

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