Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a unique numerical code that is assigned to every device (e.g. computer, printer) that is connected to the internet. IP address is a very interesting modern technology product that has been specifically developed/ designed to enable computers or other digital devices communicate with each other via the internet. Just as a person needs your correct mailing address to send a letter to you, a computer/ digital device on the internet equally needs your correct IP address to be able to communicate with your own computer.
IP Address is part of a well laid inter-connected grid that controls internet communication by identifying both communication initiating devices and the recipient devices thus making it possible for 2-way communication to take place. Internet Protocol addresses can be assigned either permanently for a business server/ Email server or permanent home/ house resident or temporarily depending on the need from the available pool of addresses from your local Internet Service Provider (ISP).
An IP address is composed of 4 decimal numbers that are separated by dots, each of these four numbers contains 1 to 3 digits and each number can range from 0 to 255. An example of an IP address is:10.200.0.125. This group of four numbers is what enables us to send and receive data across our internet connections at the same time ensuring that data that is sent arrives at its correct destinations. Without the IP address it could have been impossible to send or receive data over the World Wide Web (WWW).
IP addresses assignment
IP address can be assigned newly to a device each time of booting or permanently by means of fixed configurations. Permanent configuration is referred to as using Static IP address while when a computer's IP addressed is newly assigned every time is referred to as using Dynamic IP address.
Static IP addresses: This IP address is permanent and never changes. Static IP addresses reveal information such as the city, region, country and continent where a computer is located; the Internt Service Provider (ISP) of that computer and technical information such as the actual longitude and latitude of the country where the computer is locate and the locality of the computer. Static IP addresses are mostly preferred for those activities that users want other devices to easily locate and connect to e.g. online games.
Static IP addresses are assigned to a computer manually by a computer administrator and depending on the platform the exact procedure varies from one computer to another.
Static IP addresses are mostly considered to less secure as compared to dynamic IP addresses because they are easy to locate for data discovery. However if people strictly adhere to safe internet practices during computer use this problem can be easily controlled and computers have been kept safe regardless of the kind of IP addresses they use.
Dynamic IP addresses: These are IP addresses that are temporary and are usually assigned every time a computer gains access to the internet. This means that this IP address can change any time. This address is borrowed from a pool of IP addresses that has been assigned by your Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) or ISP. This IP address is best suited for many customers who do not want to use the same IP address for a very long time for various reasons. Since there are very few static IP addresses available, most Internet Service Providers set aside a portion of the addresses assigned to them for sharing among their customers. This generally lowers the cost and enables them to provide services to many customers.
The computer automatically acquires the dynamic IP address as it logs to the network and thus saves one the trouble of knowing the details concerning the particular network configurations. This address can be allocated to anyone using wireless connection, high speed connection and dial-up connection
Internet protocol (IP) versions.
There are three versions of the Internet Protocol but only two namely, IP version 4 (IPv4) and IP version 6 (IPv6) are in use. These versions differ in the way they define the IP address. Because it is the most commonly used IP version the generic name IP address typically refers to IPv4.
IP version 4:IPv4 is currently the most commonly used IP version. However as the number of computers accessing the internet increase everyday, these addresses are quickly running out.
IPv4 version consists of 4,294,296 unique addresses. The limited number of addresses is because IPv4 is composed of only 32 bits. This version has put aside some addresses for special purposes such as multicast addresses (approximately 270 million addresses) or private networks (18 million addresses). IPv4 address is composed of 4 decimal numbers that range from 0 to 255, set apart by dots. Each of the 4 parts represents 8 bits (octet) of the IP address. In some instances of writing the IPv4 addresses can be presented in varying hexadecimal, octal and binary presentations.
IP version 5: This Internet protocol version is an experimental typeof protocol for systems based on UNIX (Computer operating system which was originally developed in the year 1969. In order to keep up with the standard UNIX all the odd numbered IP versions are generally considered experimental versions. This version was not meant for the general public use.
IP version 6: IPv6 is the new generation Internet protocol designed to replace the IPv4 address space that was rapidly getting exhausted. IPv6 is composed of 128 bits or 16 octets up from the previous 32 bits of IPv4. On its own version does not provide sufficient number of addresses, instead it permits efficient aggregation of prefixes of the subnet routing to take place at the routing nodes. This results in smaller routing table sizes which generally mean that the actual rate of address utilization is small on any segment of the IPv6 network.
In case the global connectivity/ routing policy changes the IPv6 version has facilities that can change the routing prefix of the entire networks automatically without requiring renumbering or redesigning.
Internet Protocol Address is an important product of the modern computer technology. By allowing as send and receive data/messages and also letting us know the origin of the data we has received this technology has made communication easy.