The internet is playing a very important role in everyone’s daily lives. Be it on a smartphone, a computer, or a gaming console, many machines need to communicate and have a unique identity, or “address”.
The IP, or “Internet Protocol” is basically a number that will identify a machine that goes online. The IP system is mandated by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and the most current form is IPV4, coded on a 32 bits system, which is starting to be a little crowded due to the explosion of connected machines all over the world, and led to the development of IPV6, coded on a 132 bits system. Your IP can either be static (fixed) or dynamic (variable). The good thing with dynamic IP addresses is that, since not everyone is online at the same time, they can rotate between machines. A static IP may be used for websites accessible permanently at the same URL. It is also much more traceable than a dynamic IP, which is why most tech-savvy users will favor dynamic IPs if they have that option.
Now, despite being so prevalent and so important, most people will not use their own IP, as most machines connect to the Internet automatically. There are, however, solutions to finding it, like what is my IP address. You can find out where your IP locates you, and most systems will even delete the information automatically to make sure it is kept private. But it can be important to know your machine’s IP to configure certain types of software, which is why there are so many solutions to find it.
Everything that is connected to the Internet has an IP, but there are different systems in place (different ones for at home, or internal use, or “international” use, aka external use). For example, most websites’ addresses are actually IP numbers that are linked to a “DNS” (Domain Name System), which is why you will go to “google.com” instead of the numbers it represents.
The IP system is consistently maintained to make sure different categories of addresses keep being made available and usable for all the new machines that come into circulation. Knowing how these systems works allow for a better understanding of the Internet in general. One may compare it to a parking lot system: the more cars (machines) there are, the more parking spots (IPs) you need, and you may not need the same type of parking spot depending on where you are located. Another good comparison would be the postal system: to make sure that you receive your mail, the postal office needs to know exactly where you are.
Not only is the IP system important to identify each and every machine in and of itself, but it’s also essential to ensure that those machines can communicate properly, just like we would with phones.