What is an IP Address?

An IP address, also known as an Internet Protocol address, is your link to the internet world. It is used as a network address for your system, making it easier for the internet to locate you, send you your data emails, etc. 98% of Internet users do not know what an IP address is because even though it is like your identity on the web. However, you don't have to do anything to maintain it or retrieve it. Your computer does it for you, and you don't even have to think about it.

It comprises two parts: the network identification interface or the host and the location. It is a 32-bit number. However, we started using 128 bits around 1998 when we ran out of IPv4 addresses.
So, you use this address to be connected to the internet, and anyone else who wants to send you information across the internet uses this address to locate you. It helps to identify the billions of devices connected across the network. It also enables you to send out your information to others to recognize where it is coming from.

If you have an active IP address, it means that you are connected to the internet. The Internet Protocol address is a standard definition of guidelines that helps to identify your source of information. It is a digital address that helps to govern connectivity across the globe. Every website has a unique IP address because, without this address, you will not share information with them or about them. The initial version of IP addresses, the IPv4, consisted of four different numbers separated by dots. Something like 67.190.435.099. This group of numbers showed that we are being identified over the internet by people looking for us to send across some information.

Also, we’re able to mark our addresses when we need to send out information to other internet users. Without IP addresses, it would not have been possible to send and receive information across the internet. As the number of users and devices started to grow, big companies began running out of IP addresses, which means they had to buy IP addresses that had not been used, for considerable amounts of money. It is why IPv4 was replaced with IPv6.

IPv6 has an almost endless number of addresses so that we never run out of them again. With a possibility of 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses, IPv6 consists of four-digit hexadecimal numbers. It can look something like this: 2001:0db8:86a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7324.

So, when you think about it, if the IP address can give away your information, do you think it would be a good idea to keep it hidden? Yes, it's real, and there are multiple ways in which you can do that. An IP address always doesn't stay the same. It means that when you change your device or your location, your IP address changes accordingly. Also, depending on the network to which you are connected, the IP address can vary.

So, when you're connected to your office system, your laptop will have a different IP address than what you will have if you use the same laptop at home. Internet Assigned Numbers Authority manages IP addresses (IANA). The network administrators are responsible for assigning IP addresses to track your device connected to a network and is linked to the internet. Because of this, an IP address can provide the location of its host on the internet.

During the World Wide Web design, when the engineers were looking at the end to end connectivity around the globe, IP addresses were intended to be unique to each device and network on which they were being used IP addresses provide an identity to a particular device at a specific location. It is very similar to The Mail system, where you have to enter your address and your friend's address to ensure that a package will be delivered to the right place.

In case of non-delivery of this package, it has to be traced back to you. That's why you need to enter your address as well. There can be multiple IP addresses - Dynamic IP addresses, static IP addresses, public IP addresses, and private IP addresses. They can be an IPv4 address or an IPv6 address.

Private IP Address

A private IP address is generally used inside one single network. For example, what you use at home is an example of a personal IP address. The router is the link between your device and the internet, and you can set your IP address according to what is assigned to you by a router, or you can manually set it up as well.

Public IP Address

A public IP address is one that is used in an available space. For example, you go to a coffee shop at an airport, and you sign in with their network. Both public and private IP addresses can be static or dynamic, which means either they change based on your location or the type of device you're connected to, or they can remain the same. There are different ways to find out your IP address if you don't know what it is. It depends on the kind of device or operating system you are using to discover your device's IP address.

Various websites like WhatIsMyIPAddress.com, IP Chicken, WhatsMyIP.org, or icanhazip.com help you find your router's public IP address or device's private IP address. In an Android's case, the system to find the local IP address is to go to settings and search for your Wi-Fi configuration.
When you click on network information, it will show you your private IP address on the advanced area page. In case you have an iOS device such as an iPad, iPod, or iPhone, you can check your private IP address by searching for the Wi-Fi menu in the settings app.

If you want to see the digits to your IP address, all you need to do is click on the "i" located next to the network column. With the evolution of technology and the advancement of features every day, it is essential to be aware of simple terminology related to devices and equipment that we use on an everyday basis. It makes us aware of what's going on in our world that we are subconsciously consuming a lot of content from. We have access to these sources as we consciously make the right choices when it comes to spending on devices that we need day-to-day.

The time that we're spending on the internet at home or the office is going up day by day.  You are always connected to your smartphones with the world outside as well. So, reading up on a few terminologies might be helpful for you in the long run even if you're not a tech geek. We hope this article gives you an insight into what's going on inside your computer when you're using it and the different ways you should ensure that your information is private and your password secure when you are surfing across the web.

Emil S.

Emil is a Data & Design Specialist with a degree in BS Information System, specializes in Admin Support & Creative Design.

Show all articles by Emil