Internet Protocol (IP) Address FAQs
Internet Protocol (IP) is a networking protocol. It is a governing set of rules that allows information to be transmitted across the internet.
An IP address ensures that data, which travels in packets, can be transmitted to any device or hardware on the internet. It standardizes the way information is routed from one user or device to another.
An IP address is a unique string of numbers, separated by periods or colons. These numbers correspond to a specific piece of hardware, be it a router, a phone, computer, etc.
In many ways, an IP address fulfills the same need that your home address does. It helps information find a way to / from your specific location.
A common question or concern is “what type of information can people gain if they know my IP address?” Generally speaking, an IP address can provide insight into a user’s location (continent, state, city, zip code) as well as the service provider. However, an IP address does not provide insight into a user’s name or address.
While an IP can provide location information, it should also be noted that the provided location can be several miles off. Or, if the traffic is routed through a VPN, even states or continents away.
There are a variety of ways to find your IP address. Many methods depend on the device in use. Many websites, including this Fastmetrics page, offers users the opportunity to view their IP address for free.
In addition to websites that offer to look up IP info, you can typically check your computer’s network settings by following the steps and procedures unique to your Operating System (typically beginning in your Network Settings or similar).
You can also use the command prompt (for example, ifconfig for the LINUX OS or ipconfig for Windows Operating Systems), to determine your unique IP address.
There are two types of IP addresses; static and dynamic. A static IP address, as the name suggests, remains the same. Conversely, a dynamic IP address may change each time a device connects to the internet.
Because dynamic IP addresses offer flexibility within a network, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) typically assign dynamic IPs to residential users.
However, many businesses, which often require the use of servers, FTPs, VPNs for remote access, are typically assigned static IPs. Static IPs can accommodate the need for a consistent locational reference.
IPv4 and IPv6 are both internet protocol versions (version 4 and version 6 respectively). IPv4 addresses consist of 32-bit value. As the amount of people, businesses, organizations and devices that rely on access to the internet increase, so to do the demands for IP addresses.
The 32-bit value used for IPv4 addresses cannot accommodate the growing need for internet access, and therefore IPv6 was released. Today, IPv4 and IPv6 are both in use. Many experts expect that a full transition to IPv6 will occur in the future.
IPv4 addresses are broken down into five classes: Class A, Class B, Class, C, Class D and Class E. These classes are defined by the IP address range as well as their purpose.
The most widely used classes are;
- Class A (22.214.171.124 -126.96.36.199)
- Class B (188.8.131.52 – 184.108.40.206)
- Class C 220.127.116.11 – 18.104.22.168)
Class D is reserved for multicasting applications (one-to-many) as opposed to typical networking operations.
Class E is considered experimental and used for study or research and development purposes.