What is an IP Address and How Does it Work?
What is IP address?
“IP” is the “Internet Protocol” and “address” points to the unique serial number specified to any electronic device. Your computer, mobile phone, ATM and even the Coke machine has their unique IP addresses.
The point to remember is that every interconnected device has an IP address which is linked to all online activity of the computer or device. Put another way, the IP address is like a computer fingerprint. Just as two fingerprints are never the same, two IP address will never be the same. That is how an IP address can distinguish a device among all the electronic devices including computers, smart phones, televisions, etc. connected to the internet.
IP addresses come in two standard formats:
The most common type of IP address is an IPv4 address which contains 32 bits or four numbers, separated by periods. They look like this:
IPv6 is the newest version of internet protocol address, which allows 128 bits address where IPv4 was only 32. As more and more devices connect to the internet, there was a need to increase the number of available addresses. An IPv6 address has a format that looks like this:
21DA:D3:0:2F3B:2AA: FF: FE28:9C5A
Who assigns an IP address and is it always same?
Your computer or other device need an internet service provider (ISP) to connect to the web. That ISP will assign an IP address to your device. And it’s not always the same because when you switch between internet providers on your device, the IP address changes automatically.
For instance, if you go to an Internet café and use their free Wi-Fi, you will be using a new and temporary IP address, where your home network IP address will be different. Luckily, the address is assigned automatically which means that you don’t have to worry about configuring it manually every time yourself.