IP address definition
An IP address is a unique address that identifies a device on the internet or a local network. IP stands for “Internet Protocol,” which is the set of rules governing the format of data sent via the internet or local network.
In essence, IP addresses are the identifier that allows information to be sent between devices on a network: they contain location information and make devices accessible for communication. The internet needs a way to differentiate between different computers, routers, and websites. IP addresses provide a way of doing so and form an essential part of how the internet works.
What is an IP?
An IP address is a string of numbers separated by periods. IP addresses are expressed as a set of four numbers — an example address might be 126.96.36.199. Each number in the set can range from 0 to 255. So, the full IP addressing range goes from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.
IP addresses are not random. They are mathematically produced and allocated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a division of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a non-profit organization that was established in the United States in 1998 to help maintain the security of the internet and allow it to be usable by all. Each time anyone registers a domain on the internet, they go through a domain name registrar, who pays a small fee to ICANN to register the domain.
How do IP addresses work
If you want to understand why a particular device is not connecting in the way you would expect or you want to troubleshoot why your network may not be working, it helps understand how IP addresses work.
Internet Protocol works the same way as any other language, by communicating using set guidelines to pass information. All devices find, send, and exchange information with other connected devices using this protocol. By speaking the same language, any computer in any location can talk to one another.
The use of IP addresses typically happens behind the scenes. The process works like this:
- Your device indirectly connects to the internet by connecting at first to a network connected to the internet, which then grants your device access to the internet.
- When you are
athome, that network will probably be your Internet Service Provider (ISP). At work, it will be your company network.
- Your IP address is assigned to your device by your ISP.
- Your internet activity goes through the ISP, and they route it back to you, using your IP address. Since they are giving you access to the internet, it is their role to assign an IP address to your device.
- However, your IP address can change. For example, turning your modem or router on or off can change it. Or you can contact your ISP, and they can change it for you.
- When you are out and about – for example, traveling – and you take your device with you, your home IP address does not come with you. This is because you will be using another network (Wi-Fi at a hotel, airport, or coffee shop, etc.) to access the internet and will be using a different (and temporary) IP address, assigned to you by the ISP of the hotel, airport or coffee shop.
As the process implies, there are different types of IP addresses, which we explore below.
What is an IP address and where do I find it?
To find IP address follow these steps
Click Start ->Control Panel -> Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center. and go to Details. The IP address will display. Note: If your computer is connected to a wireless network please click Wireless network connection icon.
How can I see all IP addresses on my network?
How to Find All IP Addresses on a Network
- Open the command prompt.
- Enter the command “ipconfig” for Mac or “ifconfig” on Linux. …
- Next, input the command “arp -a”. …
- Optional: Input the command “ping -t”.
FEATURES OF IP ADDRESSES
The main features of the IPv6 are listed below.
1) IPv6 provides better end-to-end connectivity than IPv4.
2) Comparatively faster routing.
3) IPv6 offers ease of administration than IPv4.
4) More security for applications and networks.
5) It provides better Multicast and Anycast abilities.
6) Better mobility features than IPv4.
7) IPv6 follows the key design principles of IPv4 and so that the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is smoother.
These are the key features of the IPv6 when compared to the IPv4. However, IPv6 has not become popular as IPv4.
IP Version 4
IP Version 4 (IPv4) was defined in 1981. It has not undergone much changes from that time. Unfortunately, there is a need of IP addresses more than IPv4 could supply.
IPv4 uses 32-bit IP address. So the maximum number of IP address is 232—or 4,294,967,296.
This is a little more than four billion IP addresses. An IPv4 address is typically formatted as four 8-bit fields. Each 8-bit field represents a byte of the IPv4 address. As we have seen earlier, each fields will be separated with dots. This method of representing the byte of an IPv4 address is referred to as the dotted-decimal format. The bytes of the IPv4 is further classified into two parts. The network part and the host part.
This part specifies the unique number assigned to your network. It also identifies the class of network assigned. The network part takes two bytes of the IPv4 address.
This is the part of the IPv4 address that you can assign to each host. It uniquely identifies this machine on your network. For all hosts on your network, the network part of the IP address will be the same and host part will be changing.
Types of IP addresses
There are different categories of IP addresses, and within each category, different types.
Consumer IP addresses
Every individual or business with an internet service plan
will have two types of IP addresses: their private IP addresses and their public IP address. The terms public and private relate to the network location — that is, a private IP address is used inside a network, while a public one is used outside a network.
Private IP addresses
Every device that connects to your internet network has a private IP address. This includes computers, smartphones, and tablets but also any Bluetooth-enabled devices like speakers, printers, or smart TVs. With the growing internet of things, the number of private IP addresses you have at home is probably growing. Your router needs a way to identify these items separately, and many items need a way to recognize each other. Therefore, your router generates private IP addresses that are unique identifiers for each device that differentiate them on the network.
Public IP addresses
A public IP address is the primary address associated with your whole network. While each connected device has its own IP address, they are also included within the main IP address for your network. As described above, your public IP address is provided to your router by your ISP. Typically, ISPs have a large pool of IP addresses that they distribute to their customers. Your public IP address is the address that all the devices outside your internet network will use to recognize your network.
Public IP addresses
Public IP addresses come in two forms – dynamic and static.
Dynamic IP addresses
Dynamic IP addresses change automatically and regularly. ISPs buy a large pool of IP addresses and assign them automatically to their customers. Periodically, they re-assign them and put the older IP addresses back into the pool to be used for other customers. The rationale for this approach is to generate cost savings for the ISP. Automating the regular movement of IP addresses means they don’t have to carry out specific actions to re-establish a customer’s IP address if they move home, for example. There are security benefits, too, because a changing IP address makes it harder for criminals to hack into your network interface.
Static IP addresses
In contrast to dynamic IP addresses, static addresses remain consistent. Once the network assigns an IP address, it remains the same. Most individuals and businesses do not need a static IP address, but for businesses that plan to host their own server, it is crucial to have one. This is because a static IP address ensures that websites and email addresses tied to it will have a consistent IP address — vital if you want other devices to be able to find them consistently on the web.
This leads to the next point – which is the two types of website IP addresses.
There are two types of website IP addresses
For website owners who don’t host their own server, and instead rely on a web hosting package – which is the case for most websites – there are two types of website IP addresses. These are shared and dedicated.
Shared IP addresses
Websites that rely on shared hosting plans from web hosting providers will typically be one of many websites hosted on the same server. This tends to be the case for individual websites or SME websites, where traffic volumes are manageable, and the sites themselves are limited in terms of the number of pages, etc. Websites hosted in this way will have shared IP addresses.
Dedicated IP addresses
Some web hosting plans have the option to purchase a dedicated IP address (or addresses). This can make obtaining an SSL certificate easier and allows you to run your own File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server. This makes it easier to share and transfer files with multiple people within an organization and allow anonymous FTP sharing options. A dedicated IP address also allows you to access your website using the IP address alone rather than the domain name — useful if you want to build and test it before registering your domain.
IP address and classes
The IP hierarchy contains many classes of the IP addresses. Broadly, the IPv4 addressing system is divided into five classes of IP address. All the five classes are identified by the first octet of the IP address.
The classes of IPv4 addresses
The different classes of the IPv4 address are the following:
1) Class A address
2) Class B address
3) Class C address
4) Class D address
5) Class E address
Class A Address
The first bit of the first octet is always set to zero. So that the first octet ranges from 1 – 127. The class A address only include IP starting from 1.x.x.x to 126.x.x.x. The IP range 127.x.x.x is reserved for loop back IP addresses. The default subnet mask for class A IP address is 255.0.0.0. This means it can have 126 networks (27-2) and 16777214 hosts (224-2). Class A IP address format is thus: 0NNNNNNN.HHHHHHHH.HHHHHHHH.HHHHHHHH.
Class B Address
Here the first two bits in the first two bits is set to zero. Class B IP Addresses range from 128.0.x.x to 191.255.x.x. The default subnet mask for Class B is 255.255.x.x. Class B has 16384 (214) Network addresses and 65534 (216-2) Host addresses. Class B IP address format is: 10NNNNNN.NNNNNNNN.HHHHHHHH.HHHHHHHH
Class C Address
The first octet of this class has its first 3 bits set to 110. Class C IP addresses range from 192.0.0.x to 223.255.255.x. The default subnet mask for Class C is 255.255.255.x. Class C gives 2097152 (221) Network addresses and 254 (28-2) Host addresses. Class C IP address format is: 110NNNNN.NNNNNNNN.NNNNNNNN.HHHHHHHH
Class D Address
The first four bits of the first octet in class D IP address are set to 1110. Class D has IP address rage from 188.8.131.52 to 184.108.40.206. Class D is reserved for Multicasting. In multicasting data is not intended for a particular host, but multiple ones. That is why there is no need to extract host address from the class D IP addresses. The Class D does not have any subnet mask.
Class E Address
The class E IP addresses are reserved for experimental purpose only for R&D or study. IP addresses in the class E ranges from 240.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.254. This class too is not equipped with any subnet mask.
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