IP address and its versions

Everyone heard the term IP address. Unless you're a techie, you may not have a complete view of what an IP address actually is and how does it works. Let's explore the concept.

What is an IP address?

The IP address is an identification number of a networked device. An IP address is a fascinating product of modern computer technology designed to allow one computing device to communicate with another via a network and/or the Internet.

IP addresses allow the location of all devices that are connected to the network to be pinpointed and differentiated from other devices. In the same sense that someone needs your mailing address to send you a letter, a remote computer needs your IP address to communicate with your computer.

IP stands for Internet Protocol, is a set of rules that govern Internet activity and facilitate completion of a variety of actions on the World Wide Web. Therefore an Internet Protocol address is part of the systematically laid out interconnected grid that governs online communication by identifying both initiating devices and various Internet destinations.

Different Types of IP Addresses

An IP address is written in dotted decimal notation, which is 4 sets of numbers separated by period. The traditional IP Address uses a 32-bit number to represent an address, where each separated section use 8-bit number ranging from 0 - 255.

This 32bit IP address known as IPv4 (version 4), which is divided into two parts: network and host address. The network address determines how many of the 32 bits are used for the network address and the remaining bits are used for the host address. The host address can further divided into subnetwork and host number.

IPv4 is capable of providing roughly 4 billion unique numbers, but due to the excessive growth of the Internet, IPv4 addresses running out as more devices are connected to the IP network. That's why IPv6 was implemented.

IPv6 uses a 128 bit number to represent an address, that means it's able to connect 2128 - 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. Every person on earth could connect billions of devices to the Internet.