52. What is an IP address?

IP stands for Internet protocol. In the real world if you want to go to someone’s house you have a complete address of their house like the street name, house number, postal code, city & country so that you can pin point their house on the globe. If you think of the Internet, it is a network of millions of computers and when you want to communicate with another computer you need to have its address as well. The IP address is an address of a computer on the Internet which is used for identification and to communicate with other computers on the Internet.

Standards of IP addresses

There are two standards of IP addresses

1. IP version 4 (IPv4)

2. IP version 6 (IPv6)

IP version 4 (IPv4):

Every device which connects to the Internet has its own unique IP address, just like the cars on the road have their own unique registration numbers. Successfully numbering the computers for years IP version 4 is known as the original Internet addressing system. IPv4 can produce a maximum 4.3 billion of possible addresses by employing 32 bits of recombined digits.

Example of an IPv4 IP address:

4.3 billion Would look like a huge number but as the Internet world has exploded today IPv4 addressing was at its dawn as every computer, phone, iPad etc would require an IP address and there are not many of IPv4 address left. This is when IPv6 was introduced.

IP version 6 (IPV6): IPv6 uses 128 bits instead of 32 bits like IPv4 and is currently being introduced to fix the limitation on IP version 4.

How does a computer get its IP address?

IP address is of two types

1. Static

2. Dynamic

Static IP address: Static IP address is a type of IP address which is configured by yourself simply by editing your computer’s network setting. This type of IP address is rare to be found as it can create network issues if they are used without a proper understanding of TCP/IP.

Dynamic IP address: This type of IP address is the most common and are issued on a leasing system which means the IP address will only be active for a limited time. Once the lease is expired the computer automatically sends a renewal request. In such cases there is a possibility of the computer getting a new IP address if the computer was anytime unplugged from the network between leases.Dynamic addresses are assigned by DHCP aka Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, a service found running on the network hardware like router or the DHCP server.