What is an IP address?

An IP address is one of those tech terms that is really important but one you shouldn’t worry about if you don’t know. If you have ever been curious and asked yourself or been asked “What is an IP address?”, we’ll answer that question today in the simplest way possible.

The “IP” part of IP address stands for “Internet Protocol.” The “address” part refers to a unique number that gets linked to any online activity you do almost like a return address on a letter you’d send out.

Also read: What is an internet cookie and what does it exactly do?

What is an IP address in simpler terms?

An IP address is like a mailing address where you can receive packages delivered to you. IP address stands for Internet Protocol address. It’s a network address for your computer so the Internet knows where to send you emails, data and a number of other things.

An IP address is a string of numbers separated by periods. IP addresses are expressed as a set of four numbers. This is what an IP address looks like. You can simply type the question “What is my IP address?” on Google and something similar will appear. You can also look it up on sites like WhatIsMyIP.com

IP addresses are different for everyone since they are unique identifiers that allow information to be sent between devices on a network. This is how the internet is able to differentiate between different computers, routers, and websites. IP addresses provide a way of doing so and form an essential part of how the internet works.

How an IP address works.

IP addresses work through a process which is like communication between computers and other devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops and many others. Here is how an IP address works.

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

When you are at home, that network will probably be your Internet Service Provider (ISP). At work, it will be your company network.

Your IP address is assigned to your device by your ISP.

Your internet activity goes through the ISP, and they route it back to you, using your IP address. Since they are giving you access to the internet, it is their role to assign an IP address to your device.

However, your IP address can change. For example, turning your modem or router on or off can change it. Or you can contact your ISP, and they can change it for you.

When you are out and about, for example travelling and you take your device with you, your home IP address does not come with you. This is because you will be using another network like Wi-Fi at a hotel or airport to access the internet and will be using a different (and temporary) IP address, assigned to you by the ISP of the hotel or airport.

We will explore the types of IP addresses and IP address security threats in a later post.

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