An IP address is a one-of-a-kind identifier for a device on the internet or a local network. IP is an abbreviation for “Internet Protocol,” which is a set of rules that governs the format of data sent over the internet or a local network.

IP addresses, in essence, are the identifiers that allow information to be sent between network devices: they contain location information and make devices available for communication. The internet requires a method to distinguish between different computers, routers, and websites. IP addresses enable this and are a critical component of how the internet operates.

What exactly is an IP address?

An IP address is a number string separated by periods. IP addresses are expressed as a string of four numbers, such as Each number in the set can have a value ranging from 0 to 255. As a result, the full IP addressing range is to

IP addresses are not generated at random. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a division of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), generates and assigns them mathematically. ICANN is a non-profit organisation founded in the United States in 1998 to help maintain the security and usability of the internet. Every time someone registers a domain name on the internet, they go through a domain name registrar, who pays a small fee to ICANN to do so.

How do IP addresses function?

Understanding how IP addresses work can help you understand why a particular device is not connecting as expected or troubleshoot why your network may not be working.

Internet Protocol communicates in the same way that any other language does, by following predefined rules to pass information. Using this protocol, all devices find, send, and exchange information with other connected devices. Any computer in any location can communicate with another by speaking the same language.

IP addresses are typically used behind the scenes. The procedure is as follows:

1. Your device connects to the internet indirectly by first connecting to a network that is connected to the internet, which then grants your device access to the internet.

2. That network will most likely be your Internet Service Provider when you are at home (ISP). It will be your company network at work.

3. Your ISP will assign your device an IP address.

4. Your internet activity is routed through the ISP and returned to you via your IP address. Because they are providing you with internet access, it is their responsibility to assign an IP address to your device.

5. Your IP address, however, can change. Turning your modem or router on or off, for example, can alter it. You can also contact your ISP and have them change it for you.

6. When you are out and about, such as travelling, and bring your device with you, your home IP address does not accompany you.

7. This is due to the fact that you will be accessing the internet via a different network (Wi-Fi at a hotel, airport, or coffee shop, for example) and will be using a different (and temporary) IP address assigned to you by the ISP of the hotel, airport, or coffee shop.

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