Thanks to broadband, accessing the internet is such a tedious process that it’s easy to overlook the mechanics of how online connections work. One piece of the puzzle involves an IP address, which enables a smooth and efficient connection to websites or online services.
What is an IP address?
So what an IP address stands for just? IP is an “Internet Protocol”, a set of rules governing how data is transmitted over networks. The Internet Protocol address of a device refers to the unique identification number assigned to each web-enabled device.
Purpose of IP address
To understand the purpose of an IP address, it is useful to look at how digital devices communicate over the internet. The term “protocol” refers to the way in which computer programs or specific devices talk to each other. Computer network software follows certain preset protocols or standards for moving data back and forth.
When you connect to the Internet, you need to establish a connection between your computer and the destination you are trying to access. From checking email to buying online, your computer’s IP address indicates your location in the wider network. It basically serves as an electronic address for online activity, ensuring that data is sent to the right place.
What is an IP address like?
An IP address is made up of a specific set of numbers or characters. For traditional IPv4 addresses, these are grouped in decimal numbers with total stops between four blocks of integers. Each block has a numeric value between 0 and 255.
An IPv4 address would look something like 22.214.171.124. You may see several like this appear in the address bar of your web browser, especially if you have connection problems.
IP addresses are grouped together in this way because their numbers are easier for us to remember. However, computers communicate only through binary code made up of ones and zeros.
Newer format for IP addresses
Nearly 4.3 billion combinations are possible using the public IPv4 standard. With a global population of nearly eight billion and many of us using multiple devices to access the internet, the world needs more IP addresses than IPv4 can offer.
Instead of using the binary system described above, the latest IPv6 protocol uses a hexadecimal. This includes alphabetical and numeric values, which can be grouped into eight groups to offer trillions of IP addresses together.
Types of IP Addresses
We have already discussed the differences between IPv4 and IPv6, which are different ways of generating specific IP addresses. However, there are other types of IP address to note:
Private IP addresses
When you connect to the internet using home broadband or a business network, your device will have a private IP address. If several devices are connected to one ISP, this will be different for each device. Private IP addresses are used on the local network, so one device can communicate with another.
Public IP addresses
On the other hand, your public IP address is unique for every user. It is the primary IP address that connects your network to the Internet. It may change depending on how you go online. If you use public Wi-Fi or a mobile network, your IP address will be different from your home network, even when a smartphone switches between them.
Static IP addresses
If your address is fixed, it is considered a static IP address. These can be manually configured and will not change unless you want them to. Static IP addresses can be private or public.
Dynamic IP addresses
When you set up a new router, a dynamic IP address is automatically assigned to your network. Internet service providers (ISPs) specify the circulation of addresses, ensuring that each user receives a unique number. Like a landline phone number, an IP address can be given to someone else if they are not currently using it.
Read about ip addresses for phones.
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