What is an IP Address?

Domain names are for humans and simply makes it easier to remember a website. Behind every website, however, is a numeric IP, or Internet Protocol, addressComputers speak to each other using these numbers.

Most hardware is identified using the IP version 4 standard (IPv4). This version consists of four numbers separated by periods. An example would be 71.228.22.98. Considering all the possible numeric combinations, there is a total of just under 4.3 billion unique addresses available.
With the explosion of the Internet, a new standard has been set. It is known as IP version 6 (IPv6).An IPv6 address has eight groups of hexadecimal numbers separated by colons, as in 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0042:0000:3257:9652. This provides exponentially more possible addresses.

How can users identify an IP address?
Here’s a quick way: simply go to Google and type “IP” in the search field. The IP address will be displayed at the top of the page. The address will reveal much more than just the machine’s identity. It will define the computer’s geographical location, operating system, Internet Service Provider (ISP), and more.

How are the numbers ascribed?
There are two ways to set up IP addresses.

  • Static: these IPs are fixed and never change. This is not advisable unless a person is knowledgeable in systems and networking.
  • Dynamic: this is the most common way that IPs are ascribed. The numbers in the address can change at any time, depending on the Internet service provider. The provider has a pool of addresses to allocate to each device and they can be made permanent or temporary.

Can one machine have multiple IP addresses?
It can be useful for one computer to have multiple IPs. One IP would identify the computer when the user is simply searching the Internet. At the same time, the computer could be hosting an intranet, where other computers within that network are connecting to it. The computer could also host a website or FTP server. A unique identifier would be helpful to each of these communication platforms.

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