If you’ve been around computers – or people who know about computers – long enough, you’ve probably heard the term “IP Address” at one point or another. IP Addresses are vitally important for Internet usage due to a number of reasons, so it’s good to know just what an IP Address is and what exactly it does.
What is an IP Address?
Also known as an “Internet Protocol address,” an IP address is simply a code given to any device that can connect to the Internet – this includes computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. It used for two main purposes – host or network interface identification and location addressing. One common quote used to define an IP address’s role is “A name indicates where it is. A route indicates how to get there.”
Originally defined as a 32-bit number, most IP addresses still are, but the rapid growth of the Internet has forced developers to create a new form of IP address, which are 128-bit numbers and known as “IPv6”. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority manages the allocation of IP addresses by delegating five regional Internet registries to allocate IP addresses to local Internet registries (such as an Internet service provider).
Assignment of IP Addresses
There are two types of IP address. The first is known as a “static IP address”, and it is generally permanently assigned. The other type is called a “dynamic IP address,” and it’s used in situations where a device’s IP changes every time it’s used as per a cross road. Dynamic IP addresses are typically used for large local area or broadband networks where it doesn’t make sense to assign a static address to every single device connected to the network. A static IP addresses is used in conjunction with a domain name system so that a website’s domain name can also stay the same.
IP Blocking, Firewalls and Routers
Firewalls are incredibly common on the Internet these days, especially in schools and businesses. They allow the controller of an IP address to block other IP addresses from being contacted on any device in the network. This can be used to block children from adult content or keep employees productive by keeping them away from social media.
You probably own or have seen a router. These devices are convenient for establishing a wireless connection to the Internet by using the router’s single public IP address in conjunction with your device’s private IP address.
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