In a world where everything is done via the internet, connected by phones, computers, and other electronic devices, it’s easy to take for granted the intricacies and mechanisms that make it all work. One of the most fundamental of such mechanisms is the IP address.
Simply put, an IP address- where IP stands for Internet Protocol- is a numerical tag that is designated to any device connected to the Internet. It is integral to location addressing and network interface identification.
Without an address attached to IP, any task from booking a flight to checking an Email or Twitter would be impossible. An address for IP tells servers or the government where a computer is connected to the internet. People often ask, what is my IP? This guide will answer the question.
What is My IP?
In most regular everyday instances, you don’t have one. This is because most IP addresses are what is called a Dynamic IP Address, assigned by an Internet Network’s Servers or Network Routers when devices connect to them and are allocated according to geographic location and internet network provider regulations.
As such, IP addresses change as location changes, when switching between different WiFi routers, or even when you turn your internet connection off and on again. This way, complications are avoided when multiple devices share limited address space on a network, especially when only a few of them would be online at any given moment. This is the most common method of assigning IP addresses. There are situations where the abilities and characteristics of a dynamic IP address are not sufficient. A static IP address is then necessary.
What is a Static IP Address?
As the name suggests static IP address remains fixed always. A device or server that is assigned a static IP address retains that identification number until a network modification occurs.
Static IP addresses are most often used by servers or other networking equipment where ease of identification and communication are paramount. Many large businesses also use static IP addresses because they provide advanced geographic location services, more accessible server hosting, more reliable communications, and convenient remote access capabilities.
IPv4 vs. IPv6
The two primary Internet Protocols currently in use are IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 was the first mainstream internet protocol used and was developed for SATNET and ARPANET, two precursors of the internet. IPv4 uses a 32-bit address space, which designates 4,294,967,296 possible IP addresses.
The United States alone now accounts for over a third of these addresses. Although it is still in use today, the immense proliferation of internet users meant that long before there was a danger of the IPv4 designations running out, new Internet Protocols were being created.
IPv6 is the newest communications protocol designed to tackle the much-anticipated exhaustion of IPv4 addresses. It uses a 128-bit address, which creates some 3.4 × 10³⁸, or 340 billion billion billion possible IP addresses. Other benefits of IPv6 over IPv4 are its ability to enable route aggregation, decrease the expansion of routing tables, and provide additional optimization for service delivery.