What is IP Address?

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IP Address

We all love using the internet for any information that we require; the first thing we do is Google our query. But have you ever thought about how the internet works? Have you ever wondered how Google provides you the required information you need without messing around?

For starters, you need to know that all your activity on the internet is tracked by your internet service provider. Even if you are going incognito, the websites you visit have information about your location, which makes it possible to trace you. The browser you are using doesn’t store the history when you go incognito but the websites you visit can save your IP address. So, it would be best if you make sure to protect your IP address when you are visiting websites that are not secure.

Now you may think about what is an IP address and how can you save it from getting detected? Well, we are here to provide you the answer to various questions related to IP addresses.

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IP Address Definition

In simple words, an IP address is the address of your network hardware. It helps establish the connection between your computer and the other devices connected on the network that may be present all over the world. An IP address is made up of numbers, and it is hard to remember the whole number.

Not just your computer has the IP address, but even your smartphone and all the other devices at home which have access to the internet have their sub IP addresses. Also, every website and social media platforms have their IP address. An IP address is just like your home’s longitudinal and latitudinal numbers. If someone wants to visit your home, they need to enter these numbers on a map. There are more than 5 billion IP addresses present on the internet right now, and the numbers are increasing each minute as new members are joining the internet. The requirement of a new IP address is completed by using the latest version of a naming scheme which is IPV6.

What are IP4 and IPV6?

What is IPV6?

First, let’s talk about the IPV6, which is being widely used in 2022 and has become the standard Internet Protocol (IP) address format. The protocol has replaced IPV4 a long time back, and all the different components which use the internet services have moved to the IPV6. Being the 6th generation of the IP address, it has all the functions of IPV4, but it has one significant advantage over the IPV4, and that is the usage of a 128-bit IP address. In addition to this, the IPV6 removes the issue of private address collisions and provides better multicast routing in the network. It is a more simplified way of providing IP addresses to new customers, and it uses flow labeling, which is also known as Quality of Service (QoS).

As IPV6 uses a 128-bit system, it can support 2^128 Internet addresses, which precisely is more than enough for now. If we compare the addresses provided by IPV6 with addresses provided by IPV4, then the difference is 1028 times.

What is IPV4?

IPV4 stands for IP version 4, and it is the underlying technology that made it possible for internet users back in early 2000 to have a unique internet address. IPV4 is the first protocol that allows the transfer and reception of data from the host’s systems. IPV4 uses a 32-bit address system, so if we do the maths and calculate the maximum number of IP addresses that IPV4 can produce, then it comes out to be 4.29 billion, and we already have exhausted all of them, that’s why we now need IPV6. IPV4 being the older version has lots of issues with it, and it doesn’t provide encryption as good as IPV6.

How Does an IP Work to Connect Users with the Internet?

This is something we all need to understand if we are using the internet. Now, you know that the IP address is just like your home address, which is unique. However, if you are connected with the internet using a dial-up connection, you will have a temporary IP address. On the other hand, in most cases, users are connected to the internet via a LAN network which assigns a permanent IP address to the user.

After getting an IP address, your computer can connect to the internet and you can enjoy watching your favorite movies online. But how did your computer send the request to watch the movie, and how did the server which has the movie stored in it be able to send you the movie data? Well, that’s where protocol stack comes into play. It converts the message into electronic signals and sends it over the network.

Once the network transmits that electronic signal, the receiver of the request, which is in this case, is a server having your favorite movie, the server has its protocol stack to decrypt the electronic signal into the alphabetic text. It reads the requirements and sends back the required files using the electronic signals via the same network.

This is one of the examples of how data is transmitted via internet protocol. There are different protocol layers and each of them has a specific set of rules for sending and receiving data in different formats.

Given below, we have explained all the four different protocol layers one by one.

  1. Application Protocol Layer – Protocols that are specific to applications like e-mail, FTP, etc.
  2. Transmission Control Protocol Layer – TCP guides the packets to a specific application on the given computer using the application’s port number.
  3. Internet Protocol Layer – IP layer directs the requested packets to the specific computer which is connected to the network.
  4. Hardware Layer – This layer converts binary packet data to network signals and converts them back to binary packets that are received from the network.

Different Types of IP Addresses

There are two main types of IP addresses; the first one is public IP addresses, and the second one is private IP addresses, but there are more than these two, and we are going to discuss all of them in detail in this section.

1. Private IP Address

A private IP address is a unique Internet Protocol number assigned to every single device, which uses the internet. These devices could be your mobile, your laptop, computer, smart TV, and even a smart fridge if you happen to have one at home. You have one IP address for your home network, and all the other devices which connect with it use the subparts of that main IP address.

2. Dynamic IP Address

It is an IP address that constantly changes. This type of IP address is used to set up a temporary connection to the internet. Every time the device is trying to access the internet, a new IP address is generated to establish a connection with the web. These IP addresses expire after some time and they can trace their origin to a collection of IP addresses, which are shared across many other devices.

For a dynamic IP address, you first need to be connected to a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server, which provides the dynamic IP address to the devices.

3. Static IP Address

A static IP address is the permanent address that can’t be changed, but in some cases, it can be altered by the network administrator. Also, static IP addresses are consistent, meaning once they are assigned to a device, they will be associated with the device forever. In addition to this, these static IP addresses help us gather a lot of information about the device.

All the websites that are on the internet use a static IP address. A static IP address can be divided into two parts, the shared static IP address and dedicated static IP address.

4. Shared IP Address

This type of IP address is used by small businesses as they don’t have many users coming to their websites. Also, these IP addresses are ideal for websites that have a small number of resources. These IP addresses are not unique, and they can be shared with other devices as well.

5. Dedicated IP Address

Dedicated IP addresses are more of a static IP address that helps websites to remain out of the block list of antiviruses and search engines. It also gives you the option to pull up your website using just the static IP address which is assigned to it. Likewise, it will be much easier to keep your domain running during the domain transfer. All the popular websites on the internet use a dedicated static IP address to make it easier for their users to visit them and make sure that the search engines could show them for queries.

How to Find Your IP Address?

It is easier to find the IP address of your computer or laptop. All you need to do is ask Google the same question, “what is my IP address” and Google will show you the exact IP address of your device. On the other hand, you can also find out your IP address manually on a Windows system. Follow these steps to know your IP address:

  • Step1:- On the taskbar, you can see the WiFi network, right-click on it and go to its properties section.
  • Step 2:- In the properties section of your WiFi network, you can see a column that has IPV4 on the left and a number on the right. Well, that number might look like this 66.171.248.170. This number is your IP address.

In case you have the ethernet connection, you can go to the ethernet section, and under the ethernet, select the ethernet network connection. Now you need to look for the properties, and there you will find the IP address of your computer.

Different Issues Related to IP Address

An IP address is also a part of the network, and as we know, networks have a tendency to face different problems. Here are some of the common issues related to IP addresses that you might face when you are accessing the internet.

  • Duplicate IP Address

The duplicate IP address problem occurs when two different devices are trying to share a single IP address at the same time. You will likely get the dreaded message which says “Address already in use” and this will restrict your access to the internet. The blame for this error mostly lands on the router’s DHCP configuration, which is trying to assign IP to the new device which is connected to the network. All you need to do is, disable and enable the DHCP server on the device to restore your network’s sanity.

  • IP Address Exhaustion

To check the IP address exhaustion, you need to use the ipconfig command. If the system has already assigned itself an IP address, it means there is no IP address available from the DHCP server in the first place.

The easy way to fix this problem is by purchasing a standalone router or a WiFi access point, which comes integrated with a router. The device will help you create your own local pool of internal addresses to make sure that you won’t run out of IP addresses.

Sometimes you might already have a router but still face this issue. Well, in that case, you need to go to the DHCP settings of your router and adjust the size of the address pool to meet your network’s needs.

  • IP Address Could Not Be Found

Errors such as network path not found, IP address could not be found, DNS name does not exist are mostly related to DNS configuration issues. To eradicate these issues, users can quickly get to their command line and do the nslookup to configure the DNS settings.

Conclusion

The IP address isn’t a new technology in the networking field, but it is going to stay for a while. If you want to use the internet, then your internet provider is going to assign you the IP address, and most probably, it is going to be a static IP address. In case you don’t want to show your IP address to the different servers or the websites you visit, then you can purchase a Virtual Private Network (VPN) software that will keep your IP address hidden from websites.

We hope this blog helped you clear all the doubts about IP addresses and their working.

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