5 Main Differences Between MAC Address and IP Address

MAC Address vs. IP Address Overview

MAC and IP addresses are unique identifiers of devices on a network

MAC addresses are hard-coded physical addresses into a device’s network interface card, while IP addresses are numerical labels connected to a computer network. 

This article will explore the five main differences between MAC and IP addresses.

A person looking at a bunch of blue lights, resembling a network

First things first, let’s define what’s a MAC address or vs. IP address. A MAC is the only identifier of a network. On the other hand, an IP address is a unique number that identifies a device on the internet. 

In other words, a MAC address identifies the device within a local network while the IP address identifies the device globally. Both are network identifiers for a device but in different technical methods. 

Moreover, a significant difference is that MAC addresses help solve IP address issues while vice-versa is impossible to happen. 

MAC addresses are assigned by the network device manufacturer and are unmodifiable. Every MAC address is unique. It belongs to the network card on a device, and there’s no way to be the same for another network. Therefore, it is impossible that a MAC address is functional on two devices on a local network. 

An IP address is the device’s logical address to identify that network connection. An IP address is written as four decimal numbers identifying network and device data. 

Difference between MAC Address vs. IP Address

Let’s dive deeper into the differences between MAC addresses vs. IP addresses. Otherwise said, the dissimilarities between the physical and logical address of a network.

1: Definition 

MAC address in its long format means Media Access Control. IP letters stand for the Internet Protocol. MAC Address specifies the device. Meanwhile, the IP Address identifies the association of the device on the network.

2: Development

The NIC Card’s manufacturer can set a MAC while the Internet Service Provider can automatically generate IP Addresses. MAC is hardware-oriented, while IP addresses are software oriented.

MAC address is 48 bits with a series of 12 hexadecimal digits. In comparison, the 32 bits IP address is made of 4 decimal numbers. 

3: Layers

Multiple layers of different colors

MAC Address functions in the data link layer. In contrast, IP Address operates in the network layer.

4: Protocols

An ARP protocol can retrieve a device with MAC addresses, while RARP protocols protect IP addresses. 

5: Safety

MAC addresses can’t be located by a third party, while IP addresses are more exposed than media access. 

Multiple devices can share the IP address, but sharing your MAC address is strictly prohibited.

Moreover, the IP address can be used for broadcasting or multicasting, while a MAC one is available only for broadcasting.


In conclusion, there are five main differences between MAC and IP addresses. 

Summing up, MAC address vs. IP address are both helpful. GeeksforGeeks underlines the significant advantages of both sorts of addresses:

Edges Of MAC Address 

You can use the MAC address of a network card to set an IP to a computer by a router. Word-for-word signifies that a router can detect the existence of a MAC Address. 

Plus, MAC addresses can specify authorized access to a network. That’s mainly preferred to stop unauthorized entry from external devices into the network.

Last but not least, the MAC addresses of a router can detect users with higher accuracy than IP addresses. 

Benefits Of IP Address

You can expect less server downtime when operating with IP Addresses as they deliver efficient remote access to devices.
IP address sustains the function of running the device as an FTP server. IP addresses provide a more useful layer of protection. This indicates that IP addresses can prevent potential cyber-attacks better.

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