What Is An IP Address | IPv4 & IPv6 Explained

An IP address is one of the most crucial elements of the internet. The IP address is short for Internet Protocol address, a  numerical identifier for every individual device that accesses the internet.

Why do we need it?

The internet is undoubtedly a crazy place and we need to be safe and secure. An IP address is a unique numerical identifier and hence it can be used to find out what action was performed by which device, hence finding the individual behind it. An IP address is also used to identify the geographic location of a particular user. This information is later used by different web companies like Google and Facebook to analyze various statistics.

The IP address format

An IP address is a unique identifier but since it has limitations on the charset and length, there can only be a finite number of IP addresses. They are usually in a human-readable format, however, it may not be very easy to memorize them. Currently, there are 2 formats of IP and they are meant to do the same tasks. The IPv4 and IPv6 are the current formats used today. The latter being an upgrade to the first one. Let us look at both of them.

IPv4

IPv4 is the fourth version in the development of the Internet Protocol. Though there had been version prior to this one, this was the first one to be widely used. An IPv4 address looks like this

111.219.188.253

You can see that there are 4 terms in the entire address each separated by a full stop. IPv4 uses the numerical charset and each term can only be in the range of 0-255. The IP address mentioned above is 111.219.188.255, the fourth term is 253 if IP addresses were being distributed then the fourth term could go up to 255. After that, its previous value, i.e 188 would become 189. This happens to all the other terms too. Since it uses 32 bit addressing, the total number of addresses available would be 2^32.
Now you already know that these addresses will exhaust at some point. Since the number of people using the internet is growing, there was a need for some newer format to handle more IP addresses. This gave birth to the IPv6.

IPv6

IPv6, true to its name is the sixth term in the development of the Internet Protocol. An IPv6 address consists of 8 terms of 4 digit hexadecimal numbers, each from 0-F(0-15). An IPv6 address looks like this.

2001:4860:4860:0:0:0:0:8888

The depletion criteria work similar to that of IPv4 when the last term reaches its end, the previous term adds 1 to itself and so on.
Currently most of the internet has migrated towards IPV6, however, there also exists a big portion of the internet that is only using IPv4. This has led to both versions coexisting today.

How to check my IP

You can just type my IP on Google and it will give you the answer on the first line.
Apart from this, there are websites like whatsmyip. This website can give you some more information along with your IP address.

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