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IP Address – What is IP Address?

What is an IP Address?

Understanding IP addressing requires converting decimal numbers (base 10) to binary numbers (base 2) and vice versa.  Computers use electronic circuits that are ultimately composed of switches which can be on (1) or off (0) – a bit – so binary numbers provide a means for enabling humans to understand numbers as computers understand numbers.  An IP address comprises 32-bits broken down into four octets of eight bits each.  This is known as the dotted-decimal representation. It is easier for humans to look at addresses in a dotted-decimal form.  Therefore, it is essential to understand how to convert dotted decimal numbers, which are easy for humans to read, to binary numbers, which are easy for computers to read.  Converting decimal numbers into binary numbers requires using division and remainders.  In the programmer mode, the Windows calculator provides an easy way to convert decimal numbers to binary numbers and vice-versa.

What is an IP Address in IP?

An IP address is a numeric label assigned to each device participating in a network, such as a computer or a printer.  Therefore, every host or device in your network and on the Internet must have a unique IP address to identify itself.  The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) manages the IP address space allocations worldwide and delegates five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) to assign IP address blocks to local Internet registries, such as your ISP.

IP addresses can be the following:

  • Static

An administrator manually assigns all information; this information is constant and does not change.

  • Dynamic

All information is assigned by a DHCP server every time the computer starts or after a designated amount of time; this requires less human intervention.

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a service set up by an administrator to automate the allocation of IP address information.  Once set up, it dynamically assigns addresses to any device requesting one.  In most current desktop operating systems, dynamic IP setting is enabled by default.  Therefore, a user does not need to manually add settings to connect to a network with a DHCP server.

Why Do We Need IP Address?

An IP address is used to establish the connection between various devices that send and receive data over a network.  Every device on the Internet has a unique IP address; without one, it is impossible to contact them.  IP addresses enable devices to communicate with websites and audio/video streaming services, and let websites know who is connecting.

IP addresses allow an internet router to determine where they are sending information.  Then, they make sure that every device receives the information it is supposed to receive.  It is similar to how a mailman delivers a package to your house instead of your friend’s house.

How do IP addresses work?

Internet Protocol functions in the same manner that any other language does by following a set of rules to convey information.  This protocol allows all devices to find, send, and exchange information with each other.  Any computer located anywhere in the world can communicate with another by speaking the same language.

Typically, the use of IP addresses occurs in the background. The process works as follows:

  • A device connects to the Internet indirectly by initially connecting to a network that is connected to the Internet, which then provides your device internet access.
  • That network is most likely your Internet Service Provider (ISP) when you’re at home while in the workplace, it is your computer network. 
  • Your ISP assigns your device a unique IP address.
  • Your internet activities run through your ISP and are routed to you through your IP address.

Your home IP address doesn’t follow you when you travel with your device.  This is because you will be accessing the Internet through a different network (Wi-Fi at an airport, restaurant, or coffee shop) and will be allocated a different IP address by the ISP of the airport, restaurant, or coffee shop.

What about enterprise usage of IP Address?

An IP address is the only way to connect to the Internet and live in the digital age.  They enable businesses to do anything from launching a website to emailing customers of their latest product.  Servers/routers are key to their function, and without them, businesses would still be living in the stone age.

A dedicated IP address offers numerous advantages for businesses operating online.  In addition to providing instant access to the website via FTP, a dedicated IP address helps businesses safeguard their reputation, boost website security and visibility via SSL, and run a customized server setup through scripts and apps.


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