What is an IP address? image of an ip address bar

What is an IP address?

Every device you own that connects to the internet has an IP address. This IP address is a unique identifier. Similarly to how your home address receives your mail, your IP address receives your online data.  Our internet service providers assign us the IP address, which gets registered under your name and billing information. This is also true of tablets and mobile devices and even Smartwatches and Smart TV’s, anything that connects to the internet. 

Most networks and computers on the internet today use the TCP/IP protocol as universal. With the TCP/IP protocol, the computer’s unique identifier is called the IP address. IP Version 4 (IPv4) and IP Version 6 (IPv6) are standard for IP addresses.  Every computer with an IP has an IPv4 address, however, more and more trend towards the IPv6 address system.

IP address representations

IP addresses enable hosts to contribute on IP-based networks. Your IP address is:

  • A 32-bit binary number. They represent this number by four octets (four 8-Bit values). Each octet is divided by a period.
  • They can represent IP addresses in two forms:
    1. Decimal (Such as 123.121.2.250). In decimal representation, each octet has to be between 0 and 255.
    2. Binary (Such as 10010110.10111001.01011010.001011000). In binary notation, each octet can be an 8-digit number.
  • Your IP address includes the host and network addresses.
  • Your IP address has an implied address class this is used to infer the network segment of your address.
  • The subnet mask is always a 32-bit number, which is associated with every IP address that identifies the network segment of the address. In binary form, the subnet mask is a sequence of ones followed by a sequence of Zeros (Ones + Zeros cannot be varied in sequence in the mask). This is a simple mask: 255.255.255.0.

Default class IP Addresses

There is a default class IP Addresses have. This address class establishes the range of IP addresses and the default subnet mask used for this range. The table below illustrates the default address class for each IP range.

Class

Address Range

First Octet Range

Default Subnet Mask

A

1.0.0.0 to 126.255.255.255

1-126
(00000001–01111110 binary)

255.0.0.0

B

128.0.0.0 to 191.255.255.255

128-191
(10000000–10111111 binary)

255.255.0.0

C

192.0.0.0 to 223.255.255.255

192-223
(11000000–11011111 binary)

255.255.255.0

D

224.0.0.0 to 239.255.255.255

224-239
(11100000–11101111 binary)

n/a

E

240.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255

240-255
(11110000–11111111 binary)

n/a

 

Using the default subnet mask for an IP address

While you are using the default subnet mask for an IP address, you have the supporting number of subnet addresses and hosts per subnet:

  • There are merely 126 Class A network IDs (mostly already assigned). Every class A address allows you 16,777,214 hosts per network.
  • There are 16,384 Class B network IDs. Each class B address allows you 65,534 hosts per network.
  • There are 2,097,152 Class C network IDs. Each class C address allows you 254 hosts per network.
  • They use class D addresses for multi-cast groups instead of network and host IDs.
  • They reserve class E addresses for experimental uses. 

What is IPv4?

Internet Protocol Version 4 or IPV4 protocol has the role of identifying hosts based on their logical addresses and routing data between them for the core network. IPv4 uses 32 binary bits to establish a single unique network address. This address gets shown as four sets of number separated by dots. Every number is the decimal representation of an eight-digit binary number known as an octet. Parts of these numbers have distinctive intent on TCP/IP networks. Internet Protocol version 4 uses a 32-bit logical address.

Example: 417.14.62.225

What is IPv6?

Internet Protocol version 6 or IPV6 is the most up-to-date Internet Protocol version and the successor to IPv4. When IPv4 addresses came into use, the internet was in its early days and was only a collection of closed or private networks worldwide.

As the internet grew exponentially, there was a worry we might run out of IP addresses. Even though the Ipv4 could produce over 4 billion unique IP addresses. Therefore, IPv6 got introduced and had over 40 billion possible IP addresses.

IPv6 uses 128 binary bits to establish a single unique network address. They show this as eight groups of hexadecimal numbers divided with colons.

Additional benefits

IPv6 has many other technical benefits besides a larger amount of IP addresses. Using IPv6 allows one part of the IP address to be assigned as a network address and the remaining part as a node address these unique layers are a hierarchical structure.

Example: 4b14:7084:11:7914:d8c6:2gd1:3ac1:7vge

What is a Subnet?

If you connect a single device to the Internet, this device can use an address provided by your ISP. These days most homes use routers, which share a single Internet connection between many devices.

When you use a router, this router receives IP addresses issued by the ISP. It then generates and oversees the subnet for all the devices connected to your router.

The subnet is a smaller network connected to a large network via a router. These subnets have a built-in address system to allow computers of the same subnet to interact rapidly without sending data via the larger network.

Static IP address

A static IP address is, as the name suggests, an IP address that doesn’t change. As soon as they assign your device a static IP address, this permanently stays with the same device unless the network architecture changes or the device ceases to be used. You configure these static IP address yourself in your devices network settings, make sure to you configure it correctly or you will encounter network problems.

A dynamic IP address

Dynamic IP addresses are an industry standard, designated by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which is a network service. These DHCP are network hardware, like routers. In essence, you rent or lease your IP address for a length of time. If it expires, then the device automatically requests a renewal.

0.0.0.0 exemplifies a default network, which is simply having a connection to a TCP/IP network.

255.255.255.255 set aside for network transmissions to all the devices on the network.

127.0.0.1 is a standard address for IPV4 traffic Loopback. In other words, it is your device identifying itself with or without an IP address.

10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255 — These falls within the Class A.

172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255 — These falls within the Class B.

192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255 — These falls within the Class.

Class D Multicast The first four bits in the address are 1110, with addresses ranging from 224.0.0.0 to 239.255.255.255.

Class E for experimental use addresses 240.0.0.0 to 254.255.255.254.

Change IP address

How can I change my IP address or appear to be in a different country?

The answer to this is simple, you use a VPN or Virtual Private Network. A VPN is a piece of software that allows you to use the VPN provider servers IP addresses. A VPN secures your internet connection from cyber crime, allows you to be anonymous online. In addition, NordVPN unblock geo-locked content such as the US Netflix library or the BBC iPlayer, etc. 

Using NordVPN It takes 3 or 4 clicks to connect to any of over 5,500 servers, making your connection both anonymous and secure. To find out more about how a VPN works, try our Blog or watch our custom whiteboard animation explainer on YouTube.

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