Understanding IP Addresses

by Barry Dysert
(last updated May 19, 2014)

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is required for every device connected to an IP-governed network. IP addresses are part of the "conversation" that occurs between clients and servers over DHCP. (See the tip titled Understanding DHCP for more information.)

There are two types of IP addresses: IPv4, which uses 32-bit numbers to store the address, and IPv6, which uses 128-bit numbers to store the address. IPv6 was established because it was predicted in the 1990's that all 32-bit addresses would soon be spoken for.

An IPv4 address is a sequence of four groups of numbers separated by periods (called the dot-decimal notation). For example, the "google.com" domain uses (among others) an IPv4 address of 74.125.225.114. Behind each of the four groups of an IPv4 address is an eight-bit number, so each group can range from 0 to 255. This implies that a little over four billion unique addresses (256 x 256 x 256 x 256) can be represented by an IPv4 address. Because of the IPv4 specification and reserved addresses, though, not all potential addresses are actually available.

An IPv6 address is a sequence of eight groups of numbers separated by colons. Behind each of the eight groups is a 16-bit number, so each group can range from 0 to FFFF (hex). Hex numbers can appear as part of an IPv6 address, so a theoretical IPv6 address may look something like this: 2002:0715:44D5:C4AE:2910:0AE7:D29F:948D.

 This tip (13104) applies to Windows 7 and 8.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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