IP Address

IP address definition: How it works + types

What is an IP address?

An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique numerical identifier which is assigned to each device connected to a computer network. It’s used to identify and locate devices on the Internet.

An IP address consists of numbers separated by periods, such as We’ll come to what these numbers mean in the next section, but essentially your IP address allows devices to communicate with each other by routing data packets across the internet network. Depending on the network configuration, IP addresses can be either dynamic IP addresses (assigned temporarily) or static IP addresses (assigned permanently).

How IP addresses work?

To understand the working of an IP address, think of an IP address as a digital address, similar to a physical address for a house. If you want to send a letter to someone, you need to know their physical address so that the postal service can deliver the letter to the right location.

In the same way, when devices want to communicate with each other, they need to know the IP address of the recipient device.

An IP address is nothing but a series of numbers where each number ranges from 0 to 255. It contains two parts: the network address and the host address.

The network address identifies the network that the device is connected to, telling routers and other network devices which private network the device belongs to.

The host address identifies the specific device within that network, helping distinguish one device from another within the same network.

When you connect your device to the internet or buy a new internet connection, your internet service provider (ISP) assigns you a private IP address. To send data from one device to another, the sending device packages the data with the recipient's private IP address and sends it across the network.

Routers and other network devices use the IP address to route the data to the correct destination address.

In short, IP addresses work as unique identifiers for devices on a computer network or the internet, allowing them to communicate with each other by sending and receiving data packets.

What are the types of IP addresses?

There are two types of IP addresses:

IPv4 Address

IPv4 stands for Internet Protocol version 4. This is the older and more widely used version of IP addresses. IPv4 addresses are represented by four sets of numbers, ranging from 0 to 255, separated by periods and look like this -

IPv4 addresses provide approximately 4.3 billion unique addresses distributed among various organisations and internet service providers (ISPs). However, due to the rapid growth of internet-connected devices, the availability of IPv4 addresses is becoming limited.

IPv6 Address

IPv6 stands for Internet Protocol version 6. This is the newer and more advanced version of IP addresses. IPv6 addresses are represented by eight sets of alphanumeric characters, separated by colons. An IPv6 address looks like - 2001:0DB8:85A3:0000:0000:8A2E:0370:7334.

IPv6 addresses are much longer than IPv4 addresses, providing a significantly larger pool of unique addresses. With approximately 340 undecillion (3.4 x 10^38) unique addresses, IPv6 allows for the increasing number of devices connected to the internet.

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