In the world of the Internet, wherever the thing is connected and can be shared within seconds, you need to stay protected from unwanted attention. But while keeping yourself safe, you also need to be connected with the Internet, and how will you do it? Well, the answer is pretty simple with the help of an IP address. In its essence, an IP address is nothing but an identifier that makes it possible for the information to be sent from one device to the other through a network. An IP address comes with the information about your location. It is also a way to differentiate between the number of computers using the Internet to track them down when needed.
With the help of an IP address, government, or in case anyone can track down a user who is using the Internet. But it is not easy to get your hands on someone’s IP address. This is what makes the Internet secure and, at the same time, a safe place to exchange information and ideas.
Today we are going to learn about IP addresses and their different types. Furthermore, we will also be answering the question of which type of IP address you should be getting based on your diverse needs. So let’s go ahead.
What is an IP Address?
So what is an IP address? Let’s start with the basics here. ‘IP’ in IP address is the abbreviated form of ‘Internet Protocol’. With the help of an IP address, a network gets to identify the hardware devices. With the use of an IP address, the owner of a device can send data from his system to the other using different types of networks such as local networks or the Internet.
Each IP address has a string of numbers that we don’t understand. This string of numbers is separated by periods. Also, there are four numbers, and each of them ranges from 0 to 255. Every website that is present on the Internet has its IP address; for example, the IP address of Google is 8.8. 8.8. 8.8. 4.4. Right now, we have billions of active devices which are connected to the Internet. As a result, we are running out of unique IP addresses, and soon we will have to move onto the next version of IP addresses which is IPv6. We will only explain the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 in the coming sections of this article.
How Does an IP Address Work?
When you open up the browser to send an email to your colleague, you access the network which is actually on the Internet or the one which allows you to connect with the Internet. To use the Internet, the device needs to have a virtual return address, and that’s where the IP address comes into play. But that’s a simplification of how an IP address works. Let’s dive deep and see how it allows your computer to make a connection with the Internet.
Computers work in binary format; they don’t understand our input, and neither do we understand theirs. To understand the working of IP addresses, you first need to know its parts. There are two parts of the IP address, and each is defined below.
Structure of IP Address
1. Network ID
The network ID is part of the IP address that starts from the left and goes to 3 strings of numbers or two dots. If we look at the above, we can find out its network ID from the given IP address, which is 8.8. 8.8.. Here 8.8 is the network ID of Google’s IP address. It is required to fill the missing part of the network ID with zero. So the complete network ID of Google’s IP address will be 126.96.36.199
2. Host ID
The remaining part of the IP address is called the host ID. It is different for different devices. As a result, if you have a home network and you all are using the Internet on it, then all of your devices will have the same network ID but will carry different host IDs in your IP addresses. Let’s continue the above example only i.e. Google’s IP address 188.8.131.52. So, in this case, the host ID will be 8. Now, if we have to write the unique ID of the host, it will be 184.108.40.206 for this network.
To give you a better idea of what an IP address is, let’s take an example of an analogy. Think of your home address and the street address where you live right now. Take an address like 796 Church Street. The street name here becomes the network ID, 796 becomes your host ID, and your city becomes the network. No two streets in a city have the same name. Similarly, two networks don’t have duplicate network IDs. Also, as every street has a unique house number, each network has different host IDs, and no two ids will be the same.
The Subnet Mask
Now let’s see how a device can find which part of your IP address is a network ID and which one is the host ID? The simple answer to this question is with the help of a second number which is known as the subnet mask. Even if you check your IP address, you will find a subnet mask associated with it. The subnet mask looks like four numbers are either 255 or 0; the change in position of 255 to 0 depends on the division between the various networks and the host IDs. The 255 is used to “mask out” the network ID from the equation.
The subnet mask for each IP address will be pretty much the same, so if we talk about the above example of Google’s IP address, we can say its subnet mask will be 255.255.255.0. People can also get a unique subnet mask if they are using a more complex or higher level of networks.
Different Types of IP Address
Whenever you are connected to the Internet, you get an IP address, and after that, you start scrolling through your favourite websites. There are mainly two types of IP addresses, and each one of them is listed below with an explanation.
1. Private IP Address
From the smart TV, you have at home to the smart fridge, even your smartwatch has a unique IP address. But what makes these IP addresses different from others is that they will not change over time. Once the router gives the IP address, it cannot be changed automatically.
You have to make changes to it manually, which is tedious and not required in most cases. In addition to this, even your Bluetooth devices have a private IP address. With the rise in the number of IoT devices for a home, you are going to have more and more private IP addresses assigned to your home network than before.
2. Public IP Address
A public IP address is the one that becomes your Internet protocol address. Also, this IP address gets encrypted by several methods to keep your device’s location safe and hidden from unwanted individuals that are present online. When you search Google for “What is my IP Address?” This is the IP address you get in return. Some people like to call it the external IP address of their devices. This is much like your postal address or home address, as discussed earlier.
Keep in mind that the public IP address is unique to your device, even if you have more than two devices using the Internet from the same network. You will still end up having a different public IP address. This is because it will help in finding your device’s location when there is an emergency. The Internet address protocol or simply public IP address is unique worldwide. So with the increasing number of devices, these IP addresses are now shifted from IPv4 technology to IPv6.
The public IP addresses are of two types: Dynamic IP address, and Static IP address.
3. Dynamic IP Address
The dynamic IP addresses are the ones you get when you call the Internet Service Provider and ask them to provide you with their Internet service. ISPs buy a massive pool of IP addresses, and then they assign them automatically to their customers. When you are using it periodically, they will re-assign new IP addresses to your router and take in the pool’s older IP addresses. So it can be used by other customers as well. The main reason for this is to lower the cost of generating a new IP address whenever a new device is connected to the Internet using their services.
In addition, the automation of regular change of IP addresses allows ISPs to make a change in the IP addresses when you somehow change your home or there is a new device added to your network. Likewise, there are tons of security benefits, too, as it makes it harder for the criminals to track you down, as you don’t have a specific IP address that doesn’t change over time.
4. Static IP Address
When we compare static IP address to dynamic IP address, we see that it is the complete opposite of what dynamic IP address was. In a static IP address, you get a single IP from your ISP, and then that particular IP will be your IP for the rest of the time till you change your ISP or call your ISP to change it. Otherwise, there is no way of changing the static IP address. This type of IP address is great for businesses and Server Farms. But most companies don’t even need a static IP address, but when you host a server on your own, then it becomes a necessity. Also, one of the significant differences between static and dynamic IP addresses is that you need to pay a little extra to get your hands on the static IP address.
A static IP address is used to ensure that your website and email address will point to the specific IP address, and customers will have no issues in reaching out to you. With the static IP address, you again get two options to choose from. The first one is a shared IP address, and then we have a dedicated IP address.
- Shared IP Address
A shared IP address is the one where you make a website and then use the shared hosting servers to make it run online. In this case, a server stores more than one website on its single IP address. This is an excellent solution for those websites which have just recently started, and the incoming traffic on them is manageable by shared IP address. In addition to this, the websites are also limited to the number of pages and other features when it is using a shared IP address.
- Dedicated IP Address
When you have a massive website, or you have been using a shared hosting service for a while now and need something more robust which could handle the incoming traffic. Then it is time for you to make a move for a dedicated IP address. With a dedicated IP address, it becomes easier for your website to obtain the SSL certificate, which is pretty essential for the Internet standards these days.
Also, with a dedicated IP address, it becomes easier for you to transfer files to multiple users at once using the same dedicated IP address. Also, with a dedicated IP address, you can easily visit your website with the IP address rather than typing in the domain name. This could be useful in those cases when you want to test out the website before you buy its domain. These are also known as dedicated website IP addresses.
Benefits of Using Dedicated IP Address
While we are at it, let’s talk about some of the benefits of using a dedicated IP address for your server or website. In addition to being helpful for servers and websites, a dedicated IP address can come quite handy for various other reasons, and in this section, we are going to show a few of them to you.
Better Website Access
Sometimes you might want to access your website using the IP address which is attached to your domain name by using the FTP. In that case, if you have a dedicated IP address, you can easily access your website remotely anytime you want by simply typing in the IP address.
Also, there are several reasons why you want to see your website from the IP address only. The biggest reason is that you have created a website, and you want to make sure that before it gets released, it should be working perfectly. In that case, having a dedicated IP address could be crucial to find out issues that your website has without making it go live.
Some Application Might Need It
Some unique software programs work on specific scripts which need to have a dedicated IP address. Check the requirements of the application before you purchase it to be used for or within your server.
Enhances Your Email Capabilities
If you are a business that owns a domain-branded email address such as Ritivik@flipkart.com, then you might be sending emails via your host. As a result, if you are using shared IP addresses, then it becomes difficult for you to send emails via domain address, and you can easily find your email landing in the spam folder of your receiver.
With a dedicated IP address, you don’t have to worry about others using your IP address here and there. This will give your emails better deliverability rates while also keeping them safe from beings marked as spammed.
Higher Level SSL Certificates Might Want It
In some cases having a dedicated IP address is a requirement for some advanced SSL certificates. This is not required for most of the hosting services, but some hosting servers will tend to face this problem. In addition to this, with a dedicated IP address, you will have a boost in your website’s performance and security as well.
Difference between IPv4 Address and IPv6 Address
A lot of people get confused between IPv4 and IPv6, but there is nothing to be confused about. Both of them are working on the same principle and are providing the same set of abilities for you to connect with the Internet. IPv4 has been the Internet standard for a long time, but now times are changing, and every second new IoT device is being popped up. As a result, we have to move towards a new form of IP address which is IPv6. There are some differences in IPv6 in comparison to IPv4, and these are written down below.
- The IPv6 uses the hexadecimal numbers along with alphanumeric addresses whose binary bits are also separated using colons.
- The address type is unicast, multicast, and anycast.
- There is no use of an address mask.
- IPv6 uses 8 header fields. Also, the length of a header field is 40, with no checksum fields to be found.
- The IPv6 has an unlimited number of IP addresses where IPv4 only had Class A to E.
- The fragmentation in IPv6 is done by the sender, and the network configuration takes place automatically.
These are some significant changes that you get when you move from IPv4 to IPv6. But when you are using the Internet, there is no change in any way possible. Everything will work the same way it used to with IPv4.
Which Type of IP Address Should You Be Using?
So you have learned everything about IP addresses and their different types. Now you must be thinking about which kind of IP address suits my requirement. Well, the answer is the one you can afford. After the release of IPv6, there are billions of IP addresses.
If you are running a big business or a multi-million dollar company, then it is best to go with a dedicated IP address to make sure your website is secured from online attacks. Also, a dedicated IP address is quite beneficial for big businesses.
On the other hand, if you are using Internet services for daily tasks such as for the office, college, and schoolwork, then having a dynamic IP address will be a no-brainer. Your ISP will provide you with it, and you don’t need to pay extra for it.
So these were the different types of IP addresses that you can ask from your hosting and ISP provider. There is not a big difference in their working. Still, it is better to know than to guess. We hope you now fully understand the different types of IP addresses, and all your doubts are cleared. Still, if there is something you want to ask, please feel free to add it in the comments section, and we will answer it for you. Happy web surfing!