What is an IP Address?

In 1970s, a technology was created to make it possible to connect multiple distinct devices and networks to connect and work together as a single coordinated unit. This network of computing devices, which include laptops, mobiles, and other connected devices is known as an Inter-Network communicating using TCP/IP technologies as its basic building block.

Even the World Wide Web (WWW) is built using Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) which is built on top of the core TCP/IP technology. Following is list of most popular and widespread internet applications like file transfer, email, streaming video and various other cloud services are also built on top of TCP/IP.

To communicate, each one of these devices is assigned a unique address, akin to a home address, and is called an IP Address. Currently there are two versions of IP addresses being used: IPv4 and IPv6.

News Challenges With The Growth of Internet

As the Internet grew, so did the number of devices connected to the internetwork. All of these devices were using IPv4 type of address with a total of 4.3 billion addresses available. With the exponential growth ,of internet we were bound to exhaust these addresses very quickly.

This required a new solution, possibly a reenginnering of the TCP/IP protocols.

Multiple such options were discussed with two rising to the top:

  • Network Address Translation (NAT)
  • Create a new version of address to be named IPv6.

IPv6 was going to provide the ability to use over 340 trillion trillion trillion (3.4 x 1038) unique addressses. Which easily solve the ip address exhaustion problem for a long time to come, but came with the catch that existing network infrastructure needs to support a new address scheme.

So which the implementation of IPv6 was approved and while it was being implemented, the short gap solution of NAT was quickly rolled out, which helped with the immediate IPv4 address space exhaustion.

So What is an IP Address?

IP address stands for Internet Protocol Address. An IP is a unique number assigned to all information technology connected devices such as printers, routers, modems, and even refrigerators. The IP address identifies and allows these devices the ability to communicate with each other on an internal or external computer network. Any device that transmits or receives internet traffic will be assigned an IP address.

There is a standard of communication which is called an Internet Protocol (IP) standard. In layman’s terms, it is the same as your home address. In order for you to receive snail mail, the sending party must have your correct mailing address (IP address). If any of the mailing information is incorrect, you do not receive bills, pizza coupons or your tax refund.

The same is true for all equipment on the internet. Without this specific address, information cannot be received.

IP addresses may either be assigned static or dynamic. Static IPs are reserved for an Email server/Business server or a permanent home resident. These IPs are assigned from a pool of available addresses from your Internet Service Provider. A static IP may not be available in all areas and may cost extra.

Dynamic IP addresses are usually assigned on a first come, first served basis. The types of IP addresses that are dynamic are often assigned to residential customers.

Public vs. Private IP likely means someone wants to remain anonymous. The best way to accomplish this is by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service or proxy servers.

However, in tech terms, private IP addresses are those that are reserved for internal network use only. Your home router has an external IP address and an internal IP address. The internal IP address is likely 192.168.1.1. Your router will assign private IPs to all connected devices on your home network.

What Is IPv4 Address?

IP version 4 is currently used by most network devices. However, with more and more computers accessing the internet, IPv4 addresses are running out quickly. Just like in a city, addresses have to be created for new neighborhoods but, if your neighborhood gets too large, you will have to come up with an entirely new pool of addresses. There are exactly 4,294,967,296 IPv4 addresses that can be assigned. IPv4 addresses consist of four octets using 0-255 and are separated by decimals like this 75.0.253.255.

What Is IPv6 Address?

Internet Protocol version 6 is the replacement for the aging IPv4. An IPv6 address consists of 8 groups of four hexadecimal digits (0-9 and a-f) separated by colons and looks like this 2600:1005:b062:61e4:74d7:f292:802c:fbfd. If one of the groups only contains zeros, that group can be omitted.

One example is 2600:1005:b062:0000:74d7:f292:802c:fbfd can be rewritten as 2600:1005:b062::74d7:f292:802c:fbfd. The estimated number of unique addresses for IPv6 is 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 or 2^128.

The old and current standard of addresses was: 192.168.100.100 and the new way can be written in different ways but means the same and are all valid.

  • 1080:0000:0000:0000:0000:0034:0000:417A
  • 1080:0:0:0:0:34:0:417A
  • 1080::34:0:417A

Static IP vs. Dynamic IP The short definition is a static IP doesn’t change whereas a dynamic IP can change. A dynamic IP will not always change though as it depends on how the ISP has the IP address lease times and assignments set up.

What is a Private IP Address

Private or internal addresses are not routed on the Internet, and no traffic can be sent to them from the Internet. These addresses are only used to connect to internal network providing NAT services.

For example, your internet provider may have given you one dynamically allocated IP address. Behind your WIFI or Router you may have multiples devices, such as television, computers, and mobile phones connecting to the network. Using NAT the router allows all of these devices to connect using a single IP address.

These private IPv4 addresses are in the following address ranges:

10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255 range — a 10.0.0.0 network with a 255.0.0.0 or /8 (an 8-bit) mask

172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255 range — a 172.16.0.0 network with a 255.240.0.0 or /12

192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255 range - a 192.168.0.0 network masked by 255.255.0.0 or /16

# A special range 100.64.0.0 to 100.127.255.255 with a 255.192.0.0 or /10 network mask; this subnet is recommended according to rfc6598 for use as an address pool for CGN (Carrier-Grade NAT)

Those are reserved IP addresses. These addresses are intended for use in closed local area networks.

Since direct access to the Internet from one of these private IP addresses is not possible, all the traffic going through the router is translated through NAT.

Finding an IP Address and Doing a Geolocation Trace

As noted earlier an IP address is similar to a house address but it is a unique identifier that can identify devices connected to a network.

An IP address can be used for troubleshooting a network issue, such as connecting to the internet and it could also be used to find out the location of a device.

You can check our article on finding your or someone else’s IP address and use our IP tracing tools to find the location.

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