What is an IP Address?
An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a logical numeric address that is assigned to every single computer, printer, switch, router or any other device that is part of a TCP/IP-based network.
Don’t worry. Most of the billions of computer users don’t know either, and to tell you the truth, that’s perfectly alright. Because even though it’s your passport to the Internet, you never have to think about it.
Here’s a “pocket definition” that you can use if someone asked. “It’s a network address for your computer so the Internet knows where to send you emails, data and pictures of cats.”
That puts you way ahead of the curve. In fact, 98% of people on computers right now don’t know what an IP address even looks like.
The numerals in an IP address are divided into 2 parts:
The network part specifies which networks this address belongs to and
The host part further pinpoints the exact location.
An IP address is the most significant and important component in the networking phenomena that binds the World Wide Web together. The IP address is a numeric address assigned to every unique instance that is connected to any computer communication network using the TCP/IP communication protocols.
Network nodes are assigned IP addresses by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server as soon as the nodes connect to a network. DHCP assigns IP addresses using a pool of available addresses which are part of the whole addressing scheme. Though DHCP only provides addresses that are not static, many machines reserve static IP addresses that are assigned to that entity forever and cannot be used again.IP addresses falls into two types:
Classfull IP addressing is a legacy scheme which divides the whole IP address pools into 5 distinct classes—A, B, C, D and E.
Classless IP addressing has an arbitrary length of the prefixes.Want to know something extra cool?
Every website (Disney, Amazon, Apple, etc.) has a unique IP address, but it goes by its name instead (Disney.com, Amazon.com, Apple.com.) But without IP addresses you couldn’t connect with them and they couldn’t share information with you.
The IPv4 Address.
The common type of IP address (is known as IPv4, for “version 4”). Here’s an example of what an IP address might look like:
An IPv4 address consists of four numbers, each of which contains one to three digits, with a single dot (.) separating each number or set of digits. Each of the four numbers can range from 0 to 255.
Thanks to our IP addresses, we’re pretty much guaranteed that our emails will come and go as expected, and that all our Google searches and website visits will work to perfection.
This versatile group of segmented numbers create the addresses that lets you and everyone around the globe to send and retrieve data over our Internet connections.
Without this numeric protocol, sending and receiving data over the World Wide Web would be impossible.
Goodbye IPv4. Hello IPv6.
It’s called IPv6 and it offers a maximum number of IP address for today and for the future.
Whereas IPv4 supports a maximum of approximately 4.3 billion unique IP addresses, IPv6 supports, in theory, a maximum number that will never run out.
Still, sometimes the terminology and jargon used (and rarely explained) prevents us from understanding some cool computer stuff. And although most of us don’t really care (or need) to learn more, others like being enlightened, instead of being left in the dark.
So, here is a brief list of facts regarding the abbreviation “IP.”
IP (“eye-pea”) is actually part of a longer abbreviation — TCP/IP. That stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. (We’ll call it IP for short.)
IP stands for ‘Internet Protocol.’ A protocol is a guideline that must be followed in a set, specific way.
IP is actually networking software. It comes with your computer and it makes make it possible for you to interact with the Internet.
IP is the language of the Internet (so to speak): All IP networking software is identical throughout the world; that’s why a computer in China can communicate with a computer in Canada.
IP is universal. No matter what kind of computer or networking hardware you’re using, the IP processes work the same.
IP is versatile. Any computer, laptop or desktop, or printer on a network has IP software (and therefore an IP address).
The TCP/IP Protocols are actually a set (or stack) of protocols that work in sequence. Think of the set as a team of robot—soldiers who receive, handle and disburse data.
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