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IP Addresses - what and why?

An IP address is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two main functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing.


We need IP addresses because they enable devices to communicate with each other and access resources on the internet. When you send a request to access a website, your device sends a message to the server hosting the website. The server responds by sending the requested information back to your device through its IP address. Similarly, when you send an email or make a VoIP call, your device and the recipient's device use IP addresses to establish a connection and exchange data.


There are two main versions of IP addresses in use today: IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) is the older and more widely used version, with a 32-bit address space that can support around 4.3 billion unique addresses. However, the rapid growth of the internet has led to a shortage of available IPv4 addresses, and efforts are being made to transition to IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). IPv6 has a 128-bit address space, which allows for a virtually unlimited number of unique addresses. This is expected to address the issue of address exhaustion and provide more flexibility for the future growth of the internet.


One of the main differences between IPv4 and IPv6 is the format of the address. An IPv4 address is a string of four numbers separated by periods, such as 192.168.1.1. An IPv6 address is a string of eight groups of hexadecimal digits separated by colons, such as 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334.


IP addresses are also used for other purposes, such as identifying the location of a device or blocking access to certain websites. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use IP addresses to assign internet access to their customers. Network administrators can also use IP addresses to manage network resources and enforce security policies.


So yeah, we need them! IP addresses are essential for communication and access on the internet. They enable devices to connect and exchange data, and they play a crucial role in the allocation and management of internet resources. The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is underway to address the issue of address exhaustion and provide more flexibility for the future growth of the internet.

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