IP Address: What is an IP Address?

Every device connected to the public Internet is assigned a unique number known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. IP addresses consist of four numbers separated by periods (also called a 'dotted-quad') and look something like 127.010.020.001.

Ip address

Since these numbers are usually assigned to internet service providers within region-based blocks, an IP address can often be used to identify the region or country from which a computer is connecting to the Internet. An IP address can sometimes be used to show the user's general location because the numbers may be tedious to deal with, an IP address may also be assigned to a Host name, which is sometimes easier to remember. Host names may be looked up to find IP addresses, and vice versa. At one time ISPs issued one IP address to each user. These are called static IP addresses because there is a limited number of IP addresses and with increased usage of the internet ISPs now issue IP addresses in a dynamic fashion out of a pool of IP addresses (Using DHCP). These are referred to as dynamic IP addresses. This also limits the ability of the user to host websites, mail servers, ftp servers, etc. In addition to users connecting to the internet, with virtual hosting, a single machine can act like multiple machines (with multiple domain names and IP addresses).

Types of IP address:

There are two standards for IP addresses: IP Version 4 (IPv4) and IP Version 6 (IPv6). All computers with IP addresses have an IPv4 address, and many are starting to use the new IPv6 address system as well.

IPv4 ExampleIPv6

The designers of the Internet Protocol defined an IP address as a 32-bit number and this system, known as Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4), is still in use today. However, due to the enormous growth of the Internet and the predicted depletion of available addresses, a new version of IP (IPv6), using 128 bits for the address, was developed in 1995. IPv6 was standardized as RFC 2460 in 1998, and its deployment has been ongoing since the mid-2000s.

Turning to IPv6

IP Version 4 (IPv4) IP Version 6 (IPv6)
IPv4 uses 32 binary bits to create a single unique address on the network. IPv6 uses 128 binary bits to create a single unique address on the network
An IPv4 address is expressed by four numbers separated by dots. An IPv6 address is expressed by eight groups of hexadecimal (base-16) numbers separated by colons
Example: 216.27.61.137 Example: 2001:cdba::3257:9652
Sources:
  1. http://www.findipinfo.com/
  2. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia
  3. How Stuff Works
4128   16/05/2013

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