What is the IP address? What kind of IP addresses are there?
Everyone heard the term «IP address», but what exactly is it? If you’re a tech geek, you can explain that at any moment by heart, but the majority of us have only a shadowy notion of what it is and how it works.
Speaking formally, an IP address is a numerical label assigned to any computer device (computer, smartphone, tablet, printer, etc.) that has connection to some computer network governed by the Internet Protocol. Hence we have the term «Internet Protocol address.» The Internet Protocol is a special set of rules that control how the Internet works.
So, in more plain words, IP address allows one device to connect to another one via the Internet (or, in theory, any other network) and exchange data with it. Typically, a local IP address consists of four numbers like: 18.104.22.168. As a result, myriads of devices can communicate together and form something very useful and fun, like the Internet. If a device is not connected to the Internet or any other IP network, it need not have an IP address.
Usually, a free IP address is given to any computer device that an ordinary customer uses, but businesses and other organizations may employ commercial addresses as well.
IP addresses are divided into five classes. It allows them to be used more efficiently within the network. An IP address class is identified by a so-called octet – 8 digits in the binary format. For example, binary 11000000 is 192. There are also IP address ranges which are reserved by the ICANN organization. For instance, the range 10.0.0.0 – 10.255.255.255 contains 16,777,216 individual IP addresses.
A private IP address belongs to a special range that is not used in the Internet. Such addresses may be useful within some corporate network, for example. On the other hand, an external IP address is assigned to a device by the Internet service provider and allows other devices outside the local network to communicate with it.
IP addresses may help to dig information about websites and their users. For example, a reverse IP address lookup allows to find out names of the sites supported by a shared server, find locations of domains, and many more. If you check IP for blacklist, you may get to know whether it is listed in some anti-spam database which may be the reason why your emails or chats are blocked.
To retrieve data about a remote IP address, you may use Whoer.net. This free web service allows to get valuable info about any address you wish, including your own one. If you want to chancge you IP use VPN service.