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What is an IP Address and How does it work?

Contributor: Harry Mason

Date: 1 March 2022

What is an IP Address and How does it work?

Have you ever wondered what an IP address is? An IP address is like your internet phone number. This number lets your computer talk to other computers over the internet. IP addresses usually look something like this:

If you want to visit a website, type in the web address (such as into your browser, and then hit enter to go there, your computer will contact another computer with the address of and ask it for instructions on how to get there from where it is now.

How do IP addresses work?

a unique identifier is assigned to each machine in a network. Computers utilise unique identification to convey data to specific computers on a network, just like you would address a letter to send in the mail. The TCP/IP protocol is the standard for network communication in most networks today, including all computers on the internet. The IP address is a unique identifier for a computer in the TCP/IP protocol.

IPv4 vs IPv6

IP addresses are divided into two categories: IP Version 4 (IPv4) and IP Version 6 (IPv6) (IPv6). IPv4 addresses are used by all computers using IP addresses, and most also utilise the new IPv6 address scheme. The following are the distinctions between the two types of addresses:

IPv4 uses 32 binary bits to generate a single network address. Four integers separated by dots make up an IPv4 address. Each number is the decimal (base-10) representation of an octet, which is an eight-digit binary (base-2) number. Consider the following scenario:

To produce a single unique address on the network, IPv6 uses 128 binary bits. An IPv6 address is composed of eight groups of hexadecimal (base-16) numbers separated by colons, such as 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334.  To save space, groups of numbers with all zeros are frequently deleted, leaving a colon separator to highlight the gap (as in 2001:cdba::0370:7334).

The internet wasn’t the commercial phenomenon it is now at the time of IPv4 addressing, and most networks were private and isolated from other networks around the world. With only 32 bits to establish a unique internet address when the internet first took off, there were fears that we’d run out of IP addresses before long. There are 232 potential IPv4 combinations, resulting in just over 4.3 billion distinct addresses. IPv6 increased the number of available addresses to a stress-relieving 2,128. Later, we’ll look at how to decipher your computer’s IPv4 or IPv6 addresses in more detail.

How does your computer get an IP?

A dynamic or static IP address can exist. A static address is one that is assigned indefinitely. Internet service providers rarely assign static IP addresses. Static IPs can be assigned to devices on your local network, but doing so without a solid understanding of TCP/IP might lead to network problems. The most popular are dynamic addresses. The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a network service that assigns them. Network gear, such as routers or dedicated DHCP servers, are commonly used to run DHCP.

Dynamic vs Static


A leasing system is used to issue dynamic IP addresses, which means the IP address is only operational for a certain time. The computer will automatically request a new lease if the current one expires. This may result in the computer receiving a new IP address as well, particularly if the computer was unplugged from the network between leases. Unless the computer alerts the user about a network IP address conflict, this process is normally invisible to the user (two computers with the same IP address). A conflict of address is uncommon, and today’s technology usually resolves the issue automatically.

An IP address that does not change is known as a static IP address. When your device is given a static IP address, it usually stays that way until it is retired, or your network architecture changes. Servers and other key equipment typically utilise static IP addresses.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) assign static IP addresses (ISPs). Depending on the terms of your service agreement, your ISP may or may not assign you a static IP address. Your options will be discussed later, but for now, except that a static IP address will increase the cost of your ISP contract.


A static IP address might be IPv4 or IPv6; the crucial quality is static in this situation. Every piece of networked equipment we have may one day have a unique static IPv6 address. We haven’t arrived yet. For the time being, permanent addresses are normally assigned to static IPv4 addresses.


There are many reasons that you might need to have an IP address. For example, if you have an online business, you will need an IP address in order to connect to the internet. You can purchase one from your internet provider, or if you are looking to save some money, you can rent one. If you are running a business, it is important to know how IP addresses work, and how they can help you reach your goals.

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