What is an IP Address & How it Works

“Internet Protocol” the IP Address. If you’re not an IT technician, you may not know what an IP address is and how it works. Indeed, not many internet users know.

Don’t worry; we’ll explain this simply for you.

Just as you need an address to send a letter to someone, digital devices also need an address. It use to identify the device when transferring files and to communicate with each other.

If so, this is the unique digital address that uses to distinguishes all web-capable devices, including computers, printers, and smartphones (etc.) when on the Internet. Any device wouldn’t be able to access the Internet, without having this.

The same mechanism is used to distinguish the millions of Websites we can found on the Internet. But, there is a slight difference between the IP addresses of the websites and IP addresses of hardware devices that have Internet capability.

Usually, IP address is representing as a numeric label on internet-capable hardware devices. On websites, this represents a bit differently as a name. While this may seem like a name, it is also a numerical label conversion of the domain provider, since website users can remember a name more easily than digits.

The IP address serves two principal functions: location addressing and host or network interface identification. Simply put, using a name, address, and route allows you to get to where you want to reach.

IP versions

There are two versions of Internet Protocols that are already in use: IPv4 and IPv6.

Version 4 IP Address (IPv4)

In the early days, the network experts expected each web-capable device to have a permanent IP address. Acting on that, the very first version (IPv4) was deployed by ARPANET, the predecessor of the Internet in 1983.

These IP numbers are 32-bit numbers and made up of binary to decimal conversion. IPv4 (IP version 4) which means it has four numbers (4 bytes), including a single or up to three digits for each block (byte) and a dot separates each number or set. Each block (1 byte) represents 8 bits. When all four blocks (4 bytes) combine together, the total IP address represents 32 bits. (each byte also called an “octet” because it has eight bits) An IPv4 address can range from 0 to 255, moving only the position of digits without changing values. This version can provide approximately 4.25 billion IP addresses by changing both the value and the position of digits.

However, this version is still in use.

Here is an example of what an IPv4 address might look like:

IPv4 IP addresses
What is an IP Address & How it Works 3

Version 6 IP Address (IPv6)

With the growth of the Internet and the rise of web-enabled devices, the number of IPv4 addresses around 4.3 billion had not enough to serve. As a solution, the IPv6 version was introduced by IETF (The Internet Engineering Task Force) In 1996. Here, their main focus was on a permanent solution to overcome the limitation problem of IPv4 addresses. So, the next generation internet protocol (IPv6), upgraded by IETF from 32 bits to 128 bits (16 octets). This step was a successful solution to the above issue.It means this can provide approximately 3.4×1038 addresses(340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses).

Another noteworthy feature is that IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), which currently provides IPv6 addresses, empowers several subsidiary companies to maintain subnets from the primary addresses to make the service more efficient.

An IPv6 address has eight groups (6 bytes) with four hexagonal digits and each block (byte) separated by a colon (:). Also, it is split into two parts as the first 64-bit network component and the last 64-bit node component. The network component is using for routing, and the node component is using to identify the address of the interface.

We can further split the network component into 48 bits and 16 bits. . Here, the 48-bits block is applying for global network addresses. and the 16-bits block is using for subnets on an internal network.

Here is an example of what an IPv4 address might look like:

IPv6 Addresses
What is an IP Address & How it Works 4


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