What is IP Address, Versions and Format of IP Address?

In today’s world many of us use the words Internet and web interchangeably, however they are not same. World Wide Web or shortly Web is the way of transmitting information over the Internet using HTTP protocols. While Internet is a connection of multiple identifiable computers forming a giant network of networks. Browsers enable us to carry out web communication and access the Internet. There are also other medium of transmitting data like emails and File Transfer Protocols (FTP). The important part of web communication in Internet is that each connected computer should have an identifiable number. This number is nothing but IP address and we will discuss more about this IP in this article.

What is IP Address?

Internet Protocol address, shortly known as IP address refers to a unique number assigned to a device when connected to the Internet. Your network administrator or Internet service provider (ISP) will assign a geologically identifiable number when you connect to Internet. Each device is given a number whether it is a desktop computer, laptop, mobile, tablet or router. This IP number serves an important purpose of identifying the host information.

Purpose of IP Address

The purpose of IP address is to identify the sender and receiver information in a HTTP protocols. Let us take an example that you open Apple website. First you can find where Apple hosts their website by finding the IP of apple.com. This essentially means any website on the Internet has a unique IP address. Most of the larger websites like Apple has it’s own IP address like 17.172.224.47. You can enter this IP address directly on the browser’s address bar to resolve the domain name of the site. Smaller websites may share single server address amongst hundreds of other websites.

On the other hand, the websites and apps also can track your details based on your IP address. Let us take the same example of accessing Apple’s website. When you open the site from China, it will automatically redirects to the Chinese version applce.com/cn/ instead of the English version apple.com. This indicates that Apple can detect the geo location of the user and serve different content for different users. This is possible with IP tracking as IP address has geo location information.

IP Address Assignment

Now that you know what is IP address and the purpose. But you may have a question that who assigns an IP address to your computer when you connect to Internet.

There are many functions in the Internet needs to managed like domain name registration, DNS maintenance, WHOIS data update, etc. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization, manages all these stuffs. It has a dedicated Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for allocating IP addresses to down the level. It works systematically and the entire allocation structure is shown in the below picture.

IP Address Allocation Process
IP Address Allocation Process

Versions of IP Addresses

There are two versions of IP address. Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) was the initial version, which is still widely used by most of the websites on the Internet. It has a size of 32 bits and holds 232 numbers equals to 4,294,967,296. The depletion of numbers on IPv4 forced authorities to introduce another Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6). The IPv6 is still not widely used due to compatibility with all network devices. It supports the size of 128 bits and holds 2128 numbers equals to 3.403×1038.

Furthermore, there are different categories of IP addresses known as public IP address, private IP address, dynamic IP address and static IP address whereas the two standards for IP addresses are IP Version 4 (IPv4) and IP Version 6 (IPv6).

Format of IP Address

The IPv4 address comprises of 32 bits in total and expressed in dot decimal notation like 1.1.1.1. It has four decimal numbers separated by dots and each number can represent from 0 to 255. For example: 17.172.224.47.

IPv4 Address Example
IPv4 Address Example

The IPv6 address comprises of 128 bits. It is classified by eight groups of hexadecimal numbers, which are separated by colons. For example, Google’s public DNS server’s IPv6 address is: 2001:4860:4860:0000:0000:8888

How to Find Your IP Address?

There are many tools available on the Internet that interprets your computer’s IP address and find your location. You can simple click here to find your IP address with map. You can also try to find the IP address on your Windows 10, Mac, iPhone and Android phone. For example, on Windows 10 follow the below instructions:

  • Right click on the Start menu and open Command Prompt.
  • Type ipconfig and hit enter.
  • You will see IP address of your computer as below.
IPconfig Command
IPconfig Command

Follow the below instructions on Mac:

  • Press “Command + Spacebar” to open Spotlight Search.
  • Type “network utility” and open Network Utility app.
  • Select your network name under “Info” tab.
  • You can find the IP address of your Mac here.
IP Address in Mac
IP Address in Mac

Sometimes you may notice IP conflict message on your device, when you have same IP address assigned to more than one device. In such case, simply restart your device or disconnect and reconnect the network connection to get a new IP address for your device.

IP Conflict Error
IP Conflict Error

Dynamic and Static IP Addresses

IP address is classified into two main categories known as dynamic IP address and static IP address. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns a dynamic IP address for each of your active Internet session. However, in most cases you will get same IP address since the allocation is fixed for your subscription. Static IP address is created manually through editing the network settings in your computer. In order to do this, you should first get the static IP address from your ISP.

Conclusion

IP addresses are a major part of our everyday communication and data transfer performed through Internet. As they are used to locate computers all over the world, Internet would never have been able to function without the IP address values. So, if you were confused on the functionality and importance of IP addresses, we hope your concepts are clear after reading this article.

Editorial Staff at WebNots are team members who love to build websites and share the learning with webmasters community. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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