So, you might have heard of an IP address before. But you don’t know what it means, what it does, and what its significance is. That’s okay. Every person using an internet-connected device uses an IP address, but only a few people know what an IP address is and what it does.
Explanations about an IP address, its significance, and its benefits for you. Also, the use of IP addresses will be explained in the simplest ways. Therefore, even if you aren’t a tech geek or whiz, you’ll still understand everything clearly.
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a network address for your device or computer. To put it in other words, it is just like a street address for your home or office. Do you know why it is called “address?” That is because it is just like an address.
If you were to receive a package from a shipping company or mail from a friend, you would need an address. An IP address does the same thing for an internet-connected device. It is an address that allows a remote computer to communicate with your device.
So, every internet-connected device has an IP address, be it a fridge or a TV or a tablet or mobile phone or computer or smartwatch, etc. Websites also have their unique IP address. Computers identify websites by their IP address and not the regular www.abcdefeghh.com that humans interpret websites as. IP addresses are universal, and every computer and internet device in the world understands them.
What does an IP address look like?
An IP address consists of some digits and/or letters separated by dots “.” Or colon “:”. An example of an IP address is “10.192.212.8” The digits, dots, and columns could be combined in any way depending on the internet connection. IP addresses are unique from one device or location to another.
IPV4 and IPV6
IP addresses come in two protocols. IPV4 and IPV6. IPV4 is the most common. IPV4 was the old IP address format until devices ran out of IP address. It was limited to about 4.3 billion unique IDs. An example of an IPV4 address is 18.104.22.168 IPV4 numbers can’t be greater than 255.
IPV6 was launched due to the explosion in the number of internet-connected devices and the lack of unique IPV4 addresses for the new devices. More importantly, IPV4 uses 132-bit encryption, which is better than the 32-bit encryption of IPV6.
IPV6 supports a wide range of devices. IPV6 addresses support a vast number of unique IDs. It is theoretically impossible to run out of IPV6 addresses. IPV6 can have up to a maximum of 39 characters. An example of an IPV6 address is 2004:0ad2:0000:0000:4d2e:1202:4332”
As you can see from the example above, IPV6 added the use of letters to IP addresses.
What is the significance of the IP address?
Below is the major significance of an IP address:
An IP address allows internet-connected devices to interact. So, one device can’t communicate with another device on the internet without an IP address.
Sending of information to the right target
IP addresses allow an internet router to identify where’ they are sending information to. They ensure that each device receives the information it is meant to receive. This is similar to how a mailman uses your home address to drop your package at your home and not at your friend’s home.
Your IP address makes it possible to identify your device location. So, your country, state, and region can be identified if needed. But this location isn’t as precise as a GPS or the location tool on your smartphone. The IP address location is usually as accurate as a few kilometers, unlike GPS which is as accurate as a 1 meter.
Law enforcement agencies also use this feature to track down criminals who use the anonymity of the internet to engage in nefarious activities.
IP addresses are part of the data used to serve you adverts. You might have noticed that anytime you are in a particular location or connected to a specific network, you get adverts that are custom-made for that location. Then when you travel to another country or when you use a VPN, the adverts change. An IP address is often responsible for that. It helps advertisers to serve you relevant ads for things you might be interested in and not just random things.
Can IP addresses be changed?
Yes, the IP address of a device can be changed. Some special tweaks and tools can be used to change IP addresses. One of such is a VPN. VPN stands for “virtual private network.” It is a tool that changes your internet location and protocol from one location to another location.
You can use VPNs to change your IP address so you can bypass restrictions or bans on your IP. For example, if a website is not available in your location, you can use a VPN to change your IP to that of another country so you can access the website.
But you have to be careful as some free VPNs steal your information and sell your information to others. Some can even steal your banking data and passwords. So, you should only use premium, paid VPNs.
Should I give away my IP address to anyone?
No, you shouldn’t. You can’t tell random people your IP address. Your IP address can be used to locate you, steal your information, or dox you. Hackers and other nefarious people can use your IP address to track you.
As you can see from the writeup above, an IP address has several use cases and is highly pertinent for the internet to function properly. The points written above can help you use your IP address configuration to your benefit. If you have never checked your IP address before, do so using the link posted above. You can visit this website to get the best IP address services.