Networking

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.

About

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.

19 comments
Ocie3
Ocie3

The computer (running Firefox 3.5.5) cannot connect to the server that has the URL http://cqcounter.com/whois/. The page is either blank or it has the usual error message panel. Pinging the server shows that it does exist. IP2Location does not return the geo-location of my own IP address, i.e., the one currently assigned to the router to which my computer is connected. The best that it can do is find the location of some piece of equipment in my ISP's network which is in Leesburg, FL. Insofar as I'm using ADSL, it is, perhaps, a telephone system switch, or a bridge between the Internet and the telephone system, that is associated with the IP address. My own favorite IP address information source is Who Is By IP Address http://tools.whois.net/whoisbyip/. Usually, entering an IP address will return the name of the person or, more likely, a company or other organization which owns that IP Address, along with their street address, city, etc. and contact information in various categories. When the IP address is for an "individual computer" or network router, then the name, address and contact information for the ISP is usually reported instead, since the ISP "owns" that address (within a range of IP addresses which is disclosed by the database).

pgit
pgit

Greenwich is a nifty tool. But there's a firefox add-on that'll show where every different server is physically located... meaning it'll work on any platform that can run firefox. It's called hostip.info: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/663 A mouse over a banner ad, link etc shows the IP and location, if known. Works about 95% of the time.

DoubleTyme
DoubleTyme

Tried three, including my own-missed all. Tagged me with IE7, also, which is incorrect.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Was fine with me except it says I have "DSL" speed. My ISP uses cable modems.

al
al

I went to the site where they had my own IP showing as a demo and where they think I should be. They said "Plano, Texas" but I'm really 30 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri. A bit off - I do believe.

Randy Hagan
Randy Hagan

I just loaded the Firefox plug-in you suggested ... it works great.

BizIntelligence
BizIntelligence

I tried it but it is showing my location as Sydney whereas I am in Melbourne. Melbourne is nearly 1000 KM away from Sydney unless it only checks the network of IP. Cheers !

groundhog32
groundhog32

The closest returned result for me, out of all the links in this article and including those provided by the users' comments, was from http://cqcounter.com/whois/ which returned the closest geographic location (Glasgow; I live north of Edinburgh in Scotland) and the correct domain name showing as registered to me in the UK

V.H. Scarpacci
V.H. Scarpacci

This may be better titled 'Determine physical location of your ISP'. This is still good information. It showed that my ISP is 60 miles from my physical location and in another state.

b4real
b4real

But these tools are in my opinion the best to get even a clue of where an IP address is located.

StillOwens
StillOwens

Could be a comapany network or proxy server IP that is being used to determine the location. There are flaws with it, but in general it's fairly accurate and better than nothing. We use a similar service to determine a users where-abouts to fill in customer contact forms and sign ups. For us, it helps encourage end users to provide real information about them instead of recieving info like "bob@bob.com" and "Nowhere, Nowhere 12345". All this can get out of whack when the user is out of town on a laptop at a free internet hookup, so not so good to rely on the information as truth.

Minion
Minion

showed the town I'm in, the ISP, and the upstream ISP.

b4real
b4real

I think I'll print it out :)

b4real
b4real

Good observation for your situation. I'm curious how other parts of the world also would display or misreport. Thanks.

david.hunt
david.hunt

I recently tripped over a similar service to the one described. I thought it may be useful, so tested it on some known web sites in Australia. My observations were the same as "singhsons". Being fairly familiar with some of the infrastructure in Australia, I surmise that these services have used the location of the registrant of the IP Address Block. This works fine if you have small ISPs or ones that register lots of small address blocks for different regions, however it falls over with national ISPs who register IPs to their head office and then either subnet the large block to provide regional pools or operate on a central pool with distributed DHCP proxies (Dynamic) or VPN over ATM (or similar) for static addresses.

al
al

I did some further checking and since my ISP is AT&T it showed their "location of record" for the company, not my site. Multiple trace routes from outside of my site (thanks to my friends around the world for helping with this test) showed just as many connection points in the paths as there were attempts to "locate" me. Of the four that used the subject of this article to find me, they all received somewhere in Texas as my location. (Once again - instead of my true home area.) I can understand that those assigned dynamic IPs by their ISPs would be hard to pin down being "moving targets", but you would think that those of us with static-IPs would be easy to find correct location information somewhere out there. Oh well. I can see the utility in a program like this, as long as you allow for off-target results from time to time.

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