192.168.1.1 is an IP address from the old IPv4 array that very likely boasts the most impressive brand recognition in the world. After all, this is arguably the most widespread default gateway address ever spun out of a network protocoling suite. This designation has been puzzling netizens since the dawn of the Internet, starting with its very name.
As our goal here is to understand how IP addresses work on local subnets, we won’t have to get into too many technical details regarding the differences between a gateway and a router. However, let’s just establish that the former device is a two-way node allowing a computer on one network to communicate with another system. You know, like a gate…way.
Can we default to rerouting?
A router, meanwhile, manages multiple devices, but on a single network. It understands external IP addresses – those not starting with 191.168.x.x – and can direct them based on client activity. A lot of the confusion concerning the distinctions between this duo stem from the fact that hybrid networking gear has been around for a long time.
Be that as it may, only one local subnet address can be a default gateway. Assuming a mundane scenario with a 255.255.255.0 subnet mask, the default gateway can be designated as anything between 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.255. With that said, it will most commonly use the titular address, and besides 192.168.1.1, it’s 192.168.1.0 and 192.168.1.254 that are the next two most frequently encountered default gateways. Since this node type doesn’t support rerouting, it’s objectively a better home networking solution from a cybersecurity standpoint.
For most intents and purposes, however, your default gateway address will be pointing to the device you consider synonymous with your (W)LAN setup. And it’s only “default” in the sense that it will process your request unless another node is explicitly tasked with the intermediation.
How to find out my default gateway address?
You can check what your default gateway is at any time by running a shell command on your platform of choice, like using “ipconfig /all” inside the Command Prompt on a Windows machine. Furthermore, typing in “192.168.1.1” or one of the other two common identifiers mentioned above into the URL bar of your browser should lead you to your router control panel.
Remember, this is a localized address that isn’t used for communicating with the outside world. While you can always change your default gateway to another one (assuming you’re not at the mercy of some sysadmin), a local network can only ever have one such node connecting it to the World Wide Web – or any other external network, for that matter.
Note that this doesn’t prevent you from setting up a dynamically changing default gateway. That’s what technologies like the Point-to-Point Ethernet Protocol and DHCP are all about. Finally, a default gateway is can be a subject of great interest in more complex networking setups, including most that incorporate VPN concentrators. As those use cases often warrant configuring a given default gateway as part of a wider system of branching nodes, consequently allowing for the one thing supposedly couldn’t do – dynamic rerouting.