IP ad­dresses

Un­der­stand­ing the codes that iden­tify our on­line de­vices

How It Works - - CONTENTS -

In­ter­net Pro­to­col (IP) ad­dresses are unique codes used to iden­tify de­vices on a net­work. Sim­i­lar to the way we would use phone numbers to con­tact spe­cific peo­ple, IP ad­dresses are used to send data be­tween in­ter­net-con­nected ma­chines. There are two types of IP ad­dress used on­line: ev­ery de­vice con­nected to the in­ter­net uses IP ver­sion 4 (IPV4), and some also use the newer IP ver­sion 6 (IPV6).

IPV4 ad­dresses are ex­pressed as four numbers sep­a­rated by dots. For ex­am­ple: 123.45.67.89. This fig­ure is a dec­i­mal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of an eight-digit bi­nary num­ber. Dec­i­mal is our stan­dard (base-10) nu­mer­i­cal sys­tem, whereas bi­nary is the base-2 nu­mer­i­cal sys­tem that com­put­ers use. There are around 4.3 bil­lion pos­si­ble unique IPV4 ad­dresses, so as the num­ber of in­ter­net-con­nected de­vices grew, IPV6 was in­tro­duced to ac­com­mo­date in­creased de­mand.

IPV6 ad­dresses are ex­pressed as eight groups of hexa­dec­i­mal numbers sep­a­rated by colons, as shown in the ex­am­ple fig­ure be­low. In this sys­tem, there are a pos­si­ble 340 tril­lion tril­lion tril­lion unique ad­dresses, pro­vid­ing plenty more room for in­ter­net growth in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

IP ad­dresses al­low our gad­gets to com­mu­ni­cate with web­sites and other in­ter­net-con­nected de­vices

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