A Media Access Control (MAC) address is a 48-bit (6 bytes) address that is used for communication between two hosts in an Ethernet environment. It is a hardware address, which means that it is stored in the firmware of the network card.
Every network card manufacturer gets a universally unique 3-byte code called the Organizationally Unique Identifier (OUI). Manufacturers agree to give all NICs a MAC address that begins with the assigned OUI. The manufacturer then assigns a unique value for the last 3 bytes, which ensures that every MAC address is globaly unique.
MAC addresses are usually written in the form of 12 hexadecimal digits. For example, consider the following MAC address:
Every hexadecimal character represents 4 bits, so the first six hexadecimal characters represent the vendor (Hewlett Packard in this case).
How to find out your own MAC address?
If you are using Windows, start the Command Prompt (Start – Programs – Accessories – Command Prompt). Type the ipconfig/all command and you should see a field called Physical Address under the Ethernet adapter settings:
If you are using Linux, type the ifconfig command. You should see your MAC address referred to as HWaddress.
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