What is an IP Address?
An Internet Protocol (IP) address is an identifier for a network device on a particular network. It is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to the internet.
The IP address serves as the locator of a device in an IP-based network, enabling computers to communicate with each other over the internet.
Every device connecting to the internet needs its unique IP address to identify itself within the larger global infrastructure that makes up the internet.
IP addresses are necessary for communication across networks, allowing users to access websites and services on other devices. Without IP addresses, two machines would be unable to find or connect.
Additionally, they are used by ISPs and police forces worldwide to track down users and enforce laws.
How to Find Your IP Address
To find your IP address, type “what is my IP” or “my IP address” into your favorite search engine. Your public IP address will be displayed on the first page of the results.
You can also open a command prompt in Windows and type ipconfig to get information about your current network configuration, including the IPv4 address assigned to your computer.
On Macs, you can open up Network Utility and click the Info button to get an overview of all active connections and their associated IP addresses.
Further, some third-party tools are available that allow users to quickly check their public IP address from any device connected to the internet. These services are often used by gamers and other online users who need to connect to specific servers with a static IP address.
Understanding the Different Types of IP Addresses
IP addresses come in two main varieties: IPv4 and IPv6.
IPv4 stands for Internet Protocol version 4 and is the most common IP address used today. It consists of four sets of numbers separated by periods, such as 192.168.1.1, called octets, because each set contains 8 bits (a byte).
This format allows for up to 4 billion unique addresses, but due to the increasing demand on networks, it can be difficult to find an available address that hasn’t already been assigned.
IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is the newer type of IP address and has a much larger capacity for available addresses. It is composed of eight sets of four hexadecimal digits, such as 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334, which results in an incredibly large number of potential addresses (over 340 trillion).
IPv6 is slowly becoming more common on networks and services due to its larger address space and additional features.
IP addresses are essential for modern internet communication and are crucial in our digital lives. Understanding how IPs work can help us better utilize the web, keep our devices secure, and stay connected with others worldwide.
How IP Addresses & Domain Names Work Together
IP addresses and domain names are two different ways of addressing networked devices on the internet.
Domain names are human-readable addresses that can be easily remembered, but computers interact with IP addresses directly to identify each other across networks.
For example, web browsers use domain names to locate websites, which has been made possible by the Domain Name System (DNS).
The DNS is a global system of interconnected computers that map domain names to their associated IP address, allowing users to type in an easy-to-remember web address instead of memorizing a set of numbers.
Additionally, most ISPs issue dynamic IP addresses that change occasionally. For users to remember their addresses and continue accessing services like email or gaming servers, many ISPs have implemented Dynamic DNS (DDNS) systems.
DDNS services create a static domain name tied to the user’s dynamic IP address, allowing them to stay connected even when their IP changes.
What is the Difference Between Dynamic & Static IP Addresses
Dynamic IP addresses are assigned by ISPs and change regularly, while static IP addresses are manually configured to remain unchanged.
Dynamic IPs are more common on home networks because they’re easier to manage and often don’t require additional setup or costs. In addition, as mentioned earlier, DDNS services can be used with dynamic IPs to keep a consistent domain name for services like email servers.
Static IPs, on the other hand, offer increased control for users who need to access their network from multiple locations or use specific applications that require a permanent address.
Unfortunately, a technician must manually configure these connections, which may cost extra depending on your internet service provider.
Additionally, static IP addresses make networks more vulnerable since hackers can more easily target a specific address without it changing.