Also known as Internet ‘Protocol address’, the IP address is a unique identity assigned to any device linked to the internet. It is a string of numbers that are separated by periods. This string consists of four sets of numbers that can range from 0 to 255. An example of an IP address is – ‘184.108.40.206’. Accordingly, IP addresses can range from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.
An IP address can be assigned to computers, smartphones, laptops, routers, servers and just about anything else that can connect to the internet. These IP addresses work just like any other physical address and can actually pinpoint the location of a device on the network, anywhere around the world. These unique addresses are deployed to help internet-enabled devices, routers and servers to communicate with one another without any mix-up.
They work as identifiers and allow information to be exchanged seamlessly between networks and internet-enabled devices. These protocol addresses provide location information and impart a way for the network to differentiate between different devices, routers and websites, thus forming an essential fragment of the internet pathway. These IP addresses also communicate following a set of guidelines to find and exchange information with other internet-enabled devices. Since IP addresses work behind the scene, you will not know your device’s address unless you specifically search for it.
Here’s a look at how IP addresses typically communicate online:
- Your internet-enabled device doesn’t connect directly to the internet. It first has to connect to an intermediary network before being granted access to the internet.
- The intermediary network here refers to your Internet Service provider (ISP).
- Your ISP is responsible for giving you access to the internet and plays the role of assigning an IP address to your device.
- Keep in mind that all your internet activities go in and out through your internet service provider.
- When you switch off and on your modem or router, your IP address can also change. Or you can directly request your ISP provider to change your IP address.
- When you are on the move, your device’s IP address also changes as your device will hook onto another network.