An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a two-way communication system that governs online communication identifying both internets start and destination devices. It is a number assigned to each digital devices you have like a computer, laptop, tablets, printer, router, and smartphones connecting to a TCP/IP network.
TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) is considered as the main protocols of the Internet protocol which originates at the initial stage of network implementation in which it complemented the Internet Protocol. Therefore, it is said to be as TCP/IP.
An IP address communicates with different nodes on the network to locate and identify the node. They are displayed in human-readable notations. In IPv4, it is represented as 172.16.254.1 and in IPv6 as 2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1.
IPv4 and IPv6 are the two versions of the Internet Protocol and each address defines an IP address differently.
An IP address in IPv4 is a 32-bits in size with the address space limit to 4294967296 (232) IP address. IPv4 address is the older standards which are most familiar to people and in use today. But the newer one IPv6 is now replacing the older IPv4 gradually. And some of the addresses are reserved for special purposes like private networks (~18 million addresses) or multicast addresses (~270 million addresses). IPv4 is represented in dot-decimal notation which persists of four decimal numbers, ranging from 0 to 255. It looks like this 172.16.254.1. Each part represents a group of 8 bits (octet) of the address whereas it may also be represented as hexadecimal, octal, and binary. IPv4 uses dots to separate numbers.
IPv4 address: 172.16.254.1
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the new generation of the internet protocol where the address size extending from 32 up to 128 bits which are 16 octets, thus providing up to 2128 (approximately 3.403×1038) addresses. The main motive of IPv6 is to provide a sufficient quantity of addresses. It is also used to separate the addressing infrastructure of network segments. This IPv6 uses a colon to separate the numbers.
IPv6 address: 2601:681:4200:c5c0:516:f0bb:ac3b:46bd
IP address classes
There are five different classes are available in IPv4 address such as Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D and Class E. Among the five classes, only three of the classes are commonly used (A, B, and C). Each class has a unique range of IP address as shown below.
- Class A – 18.104.22.168 to 22.214.171.124 – This IP address range supports 16 million hosts on each 127 networks.
- Class B – 126.96.36.199 to 188.8.131.52 – This IP address range supports 65,000 hosts on each 16,000 networks.
- Class C – 184.108.40.206 to 220.127.116.11 – This IP address range supports 254 hosts on each 2 million networks.
- Class D – 18.104.22.168 to 22.214.171.124 – This IP address range is reserved for multicast groups.
- Class E – 240.0.0.0 to 254.255.255.254 – This IP address range is reserved for future use or research and development purposes.
In between Class A and Class B, you might not see 127.x.x.x. It is because 127.x.x.x address is reserved for the loopback or localhost. And 255.255.255.255 address range is used to broadcasts to all the hosts on the local network.
How is an IP address assigned?
An IP address will be assigned to your device whenever you are trying to connect to the internet. It is determined by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Every time you will not have the same IP address on your computer even though you have connected to the internet earlier. When you turn ON your modem to connect to the internet, ISP will assign a unique IP address to your device. Later, when you turn off your device, your IP address can change.
If you are interested in registering an IP address that can be seen on the internet, then go through InterNIC.
Home network IP addresses
When you set up a new home network, by default, you will be assigned with the following IP addresses.
- 192.168.1.0 – “0” is automatically assigned network address.
- 192.168.1.1 – “1” is the more frequently used address as a gateway.
- 192.168.1.2 – “2” is also the most frequently used address for a gateway.
- 192.168.1.3 – 254 – The address are reserved for computers and other devices on the network that are beyond “3”
- 192.168.1.255 – “255” is automatically assigned on most networks as the broadcast address.
These IP addresses are used to communicate and broadcast information over your network. If you have a home network, by default, you will have a 192.168.1.1 IP address. By using this address, you can change the network router settings.
Static and Dynamic IP address
- Static IP addresses is a permanent internet address that never changes their address. They can reveal personal information of a user like a continent, country, region, and city from which they access. You can’t hide anything on this static IP address. And more technical information is visible to the public. The static IP address is mainly used for VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), online gaming, or any other purpose where the user needs to make it for other computers to locate and connect to them. It is less secure than dynamic IP address
- Dynamic IP address is a temporary IP address which constantly changes its address. The address will be assigned each time you try to connect to the internet. Most of the device uses only the dynamic IP address which is assigned by the network and change over time.
Private and Public IP addresses
- Public IP address is the address that is assigned to a computing device which gives the direct access over the internet. For example, web server, email server, and any other server can be accessed directly from the internet which is said to be the public IP address. It is globally unique and can only be assigned to a unique device.
- Private IP address is the address space that is allocated by InterNIC which allow organizations to create their own private network addresses. Normally, your home networks are usually assigned with private IP address. Only the device connecting inside the local area network can directly communicate via private IP address. But if you are outside the local area network, then you can’t directly communicate with each other. To allow the direct access to a local device, you should use Network Address Translator (NAT).