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What is an IP address?

Every computer on the internet has a unique identifying number. This unique identifier for a computer is called its IP address. Similar to a house's street address. Network software uses this unique identifier to locate and isolate a computer that is requesting to send and receive data over a network. Most networks use what is know as a TCP/IP protocol as the standard for identifying a computer on a network.

Two standards for IP addresses: IP Version 4 (IPv4) and IP Version 6 (IPv6).

IPv4 uses 32 bits as a unique address. An IPv4 address is 4 integers separated by periods. Every integer is the decimal (base-10) depiction for an 8 digit binary base-2 interger, called an octet. For example: IPv6 uses 128 binary bits as a unique address on a network. An IPv6 address is by 8 groups of hexadecimal base-16 integers separated by colons, as in 2012:abcd:0000:0000:0000:0000:1234:5678. Groups that contain no numbers are sometimes omitted leaving a colon separator to represent the gap (as in 2001:cdba::3257:9652).

During the launch of the world wide web it was not the large network it is today. Most networks were blocked from other computers around the world. When the Internet took off, having only 32 bits to id a unique computer caused concern that we would run out of addresses. Using IPv4 there are 232 possible combinations, which equals just under 4.3 billion unique computers. IPv6 increased that to 2128 billion.

Static & Dynamic

An IP is either dynamic or static. A static address is one that you can set yourself by editing your computer or networks software settings. A static address is uncommon, and can cause network conflicts if you use it without proper TCP/IP mapping. Dynamic addresses are the most widely used. On a dynamic netword an IP address is assigned by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol(DHCP). Usually these are set by hardware such as dedicated DHCP servers or routers. A Proxy is a way for you to keep your ID hidden or change it to an IP that is not restricted on certain websites.

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