Unleashing Geographical Data From an IP Address

So you have all those IP addresses in your web server’s log files and don’t know what to do with them? Ever wondered if your visitors are from your country, a neighbour or Mongolia?

If this information was important to you then you may have paid for a third party to provide the analysis and return reports. Or maybe the cost was too much for the benefit and the data was unrealised. Now you can analyse web visitor’s locations yourself.

There’s a growing trend in free IP lookup databases which you can query through online APIs or even download as CSV files and import into your own relational database. The problem with free data is a concern of its accuracy, its recency and its longevity. These concerns can be somewhat relieved by going for a source that follows up it’s free offering with a business model like hosted reporting, application front ends to their data, or enhanced versions of their free databases.

One such source which has made an impression on me recently is http://ipinfodb.com/ip_database.php, updated once a month and free to download, their database was able to relate my IP address to my town even when my IP changes with dynamic assignment. IP Info DB actually takes a main database from Maxmind and enriches it with other sources to give time zone and further region information.

Coming soon I’ll discuss how you can use SQL to match IP addresses held in CHAR datatypes to the ‘IP Number’ used as the key in the data.