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Why is the IP address called a “logical” address, and the MAC address is called a “physical” address?

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  • Last Updated : 18 Oct, 2022
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Let us try to deeply understand, why IP address is known as “Logical” while, MAC Address is known as “Physical” address. 

What is a MAC?

  • A MAC also known as Machine Access Control is like a type of serial number which is assigned for every component of network adapter, No two network adapters possess same MAC address.

MAC Address or  Physical Address in Computer Networks : 
This MAC which is also called as physical address or hardware address as it literally identifies an item of hardware. These MAC Address uses 3 kinds of number system and all follow same format. These Addresses either can be “Universally Managed” or “Locally Managed”.

Only the Manufacturer assigned the “Universally Managed” Physical Address to the devices. And those Addresses are called as ” burned-in addresses”. Routers, smartphones, tablets literally any device that contains a network card to connect via Wifi or Ethernet has a Unique Mac Address.

This MAC Address is like a fingerprint of each device which means they identify each device in like a physical identifier, just like for humans fingerprints are considered as standard source for authentication. These MAC addresses are defined and managed by Institute Of Electrical And Electronic Engineering(IEEE). A MAC address consists of 6 octets. The first 3 Octet of a MAC Address are the Organizationally Unique Identifier ( OUI) or the “Manufacturer of the Product” and the last 3 Octet are the Network Interface Controller or NIC which are specific to the device they are given too. 

As the MAC address fundamentally deals with identifying the physical details of network components, they also got a nickname “Physical Address” and it holds true as their basic operation is to identify the physical or hardware components of network like

Advantages Of MAC Address : 
The MAC Address of a network card can be used to assign a static IP to a computer by a router, literally to say it a router can be configured so that it detects the presence of a MAC Address.MAC Address can be used in restricting access to a computer network to prevent unauthorized accesses from external devices into the network.

MAC Addresses of a router can serve to position people with higher accuracy compared to IP Address. Some Internet Service Providers use this MAC Address to authenticate their users.

What is IP Address ? 
An IP Address is a unique address used for identifying devices in internet or on a local network, IP is acronym for Internet Protocol, which is a set of rules governing the data transmitted in network communications. IP Addresses can be termed as identifiers which enables information to be transmitted in a network communication.

IP Address in Computer Networks : 
An IP Address is a String of numbers generated by, digits separated by periods. These IP Addresses are expressed as set of 4 digits. Each of these 4 digits are represented by 8 bits of data. When converted to decimal, these 8 bits of data give 256 from 0-255. That’s why IP Addresses range from to, every device gets an ip address logically computed and this IP address acts as an identifier for that particular device in the network communication. 

This IP Addresses are not generated randomly but mathematically produced by Internet Assigned Numbers Authority(IANA), which is an internal division by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN).

Advantages Of IP Address : 
The usage of Dedicated IP Addresses provide less downtime of servers. These IP Addresses produce efficient Remote access to devices in network communication.

IP Address helps in enabling the device to be run as FTP Servers. IP Address provides a layer of assurance against IP Prohibition, which means external access requests are monitored strictly there by controlling the risk of cyber attacks.

Conclusion :
Our Main Agenda from this article is to gain Insight why MAC Address is referred to as “Physical Address” and IP Address is referred to as “Logical Address”. 

MAC Address is called as “Physical Address” because it is a unique identifier assigned to hardware components in network communication and it is designed as kind of fingerprint to identify physically the components.

On the other hand, IP Address is known as logical as it computed logically for identifying devices in a network communication.

Both MAC and IP address main aim is to identify the network components but the only difference is MAC address job is identifying the hardware components while IP address identify the logical components, by taking this way of working into consideration their Nicknames were created respectively.

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