To know about what Internet Protocol (IP) address is & what are it’s uses let’s take a simple example – everyone once in a life has posted letters or at least emailed someone, to email or post something to someone we need their email address or house address. When we look at Internet as mail service data packets are emails or posts & IP address is email address or house address associated with users computer so that requested data comes to him instead of going to somewhere else.
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is the basic communication language or protocol of the Internet. It can also be used as a communications protocol in a private network (either an intranet or an extranet). IP address is nothing but an identifying number for a piece of network hardware.
Having an IP address allows a device to communicate with other devices over an IP-based network.
Types of IP address
There are several types of IP addresses – there are private IP addresses, public IP addresses, static IP addresses, and dynamic IP addresses. That’s quite a variety!
While all IP addresses are made up of numbers or letters, not all addresses are used for the same purpose & to add complexity each type of IP address can be an IPv4 address or an IPv6 address. 😜
Private IP addresses are used for internal network like at home while connecting to WiFi router you get an IP to communicate with devices in your WiFi network, these IP addresses can either be set manually or are automatically given by your router.
Public IP addresses are used on external part of network & are assigned by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This is main address which is used to communicate with devices in outside world (ie. Internet).
Both private IP addresses and public IP addresses are either dynamic or static.
An IP address that is assigned by a DHCP server is a dynamic IP address. If a device does not have DHCP enabled or does not support it then the IP address must be assigned manually, in which case the IP address is called a static IP address.
Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a client/server protocol that automatically provides an Internet Protocol (IP) host with it’s IP address and other related configuration information such as the subnet mask and default gateway
What is my IP address?
Different devices and operating systems require unique steps to find the IP address. There are also different steps to take if you’re looking for the public IP address provided to you by your ISP, or if you need to see the private IP address that your router handed out.
Finding public IP address can be as simple as google-ing “what is my ip address?” Yes that’s it! There are lot of websites on internet who show you your IP address.
Finding public IP address can be a little tricky but not that tough.
In Windows, you can find your IP address via the Command Prompt, using the ipconfig command.
Linux users can launch a terminal window and enter the command hostname -I , ifconfig or ip addr show.
ifconfig command works for Mac OS X too.
In android device you can either find it through Settings > Wireless Controls > Wi-Fi settings or through Settings > About device > Status.
There are two versions of IP address : IPv4 & IPv6
IPv4 is an older version & is replaced by or upgraded to IPv6.
One reason IPv6 is replacing IPv4 is that it can provide a much larger number of IP addresses than IPv4 allows. With all the devices we have constantly connected to the Internet, it’s important that there’s a unique address available for each one of them.
Let’s compare how much difference does it make – the way IPv4 address are constructed there are 4 billion unique IP address (232) combinations possible & on other hand in IPv6 340 trillion trillion trillion (340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) can be supported that means every person on face of earth can connect billions of devices to Internet.
IPv4 uses 32 bits to create a single unique address on network. An IPv4 address is expressed by four numbers separated by dots.
IPv6 uses 128 bits to create a single unique address on the network. An IPv6 address is expressed by eight groups of hexadecimal numbers separated by colons
Groups of numbers that contain all zeros are not written to save space, leaving a colon separator to mark the gap.