Understanding the codes that identify our online devices
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: 18.104.22.168. 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