IP Addresses 101

Every device on the internet requires a unique identity so that other devices can connect with it. The Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, also known as TCP/IP, is a suite of communication protocols used to connect devices on the internet. And the Internet Protocol address, or IP address, represents your device’s unique identity in this suite.

Most computers, phones, and other devices make it easy to view their IP address from the settings. But you don’t need to know your IP address or the IP addresses of others to communicate with them. Your devices and the TCP/IP handle this part for you.

The Importance Of IP Addresses

Some people may never need to know their IP addresses, but many deal with them every day. For example, a business owner or network manager can use IP addresses while troubleshooting why some devices cannot connect to the internet or network properly. Likewise, gamers who want to host servers for their friends will also need to understand IP address structure and function.

An IP address can look something like this: 192.8.100.205.

Even if it looks like a jumbled mess, it isn’t. IP addresses are always made of four sections, and every section can range from 0 to 255. So, the entire range of IP addresses that can be on the internet is represented between 0.0.0.0 and 255.255.255.255.

Your IP address won’t be 0.0.0.0 and 255.255.255.255, though. The 0.0.0.0 IP address is a meta-address that is non-routable and designates an invalid or unknown target. And the 255.255.255.255 IP address indicates local broadcasts.

Fascinatingly, the maximum range goes up to 255 because each of the IP address sections is an eight-digit binary number. The highest eight-digit binary number is 11111111, which is 255 in the decimal system. And computers do not understand the decimal system—they interact in the binary format.

The Structure Of An IP Address

An IP address has two parts, the network ID and the host ID.

Network ID

The first three sections of the IP address from the left signify the network where the device is located. For example, in a school, the entire network will be addressed with the same ID. So, if an IP address is 192.8.100.205, the network ID is 192.8.100.

Host ID

Many machines can be connected to a network, and the host ID signifies the 4th section of the IP address. With the above example of 192.8.100.205, the host ID would be 205.

There are additional components of an IP address as well, such as:

Subnet Mask

A device has to be able to understand which part of the IP address is the network ID and which part is the host ID. This is why subnet masks exist. This secondary number can be used in association with the IP address to compare the network ID.

Default Gateway Address

The network will also have a default gateway address, which is sometimes called the router’s address. This is the address where devices in a network send data first when they have to send the data to a device outside of the network.

Conclusion

IP addresses play an essential role in connecting your devices to the internet. Understanding IP addresses now can make resolving technical issues more manageable in the future, and it helps you understand why the internet works the way it does. For example, if you cannot access a website, it may be because the administrator has blocked IP addresses belonging to your region, also known as geoblocking.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

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