What is an IP Address?
In one way or another, we’re all vaguely familiar with the term IP address. Hardly any of us, however, are actually familiar with how it works. In essence, an IP address is nothing more than a series of numbers that allows a digital device to communicate with the internet. Each individual IP address allows each of the billions of digital devices across the globe to be located and differentiated from one another. In this sense, an IP address is comparable to a standard mailing address. “IP” stands for Internet Protocol, which is just a set of rules that govern and legitimize Internet activity and allow for the completion of various tasks on the Internet. While that sounds vague, an IP address is one part of a precise grid that facilitates online communication by locating and connecting devices and locations.
The address itself consists of four sets of numbers separated by single dots, each of which may contain one to three digits. Each of the series of numbers can range from 0 to 255. For example, an IP address could look like 22.214.171.124. There are two types of IP addresses:
- Static: A static IP address will never change, they serve as a permanent address. They are based on location, so the numbers represent such information as the city, country, continent etc. that the computer is in - and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that serves that computer. Generally preferable for online gaming and other communication and location-heavy acts. However, they are generally considered to be less secure because they can be tracked for data-mining purposes.
- Dynamic: These IP addresses are, unsurprisingly - ‘un-static,’ or changing. These are temporary, and one is assigned each and every time a computer accesses the internet. Essentially, these addresses are borrowed from a set of shared addresses. Only a limited number of static IP addresses can be assigned, so many ISPs share addresses among their customers in this way.
Image Sources: 1, 2