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What is an IP address and how it works


The Internet Protocol (IP) is a set of rules that govern how data packets are sent across a network. To use network devices, you do not need to understand what IP stands for. Your laptop and phone, for example, use IP addresses, but you don’t have to deal with the technical side to make them work.

However, it helps to understand what IP is and why it is a necessary component of network communication.

Internet Protocol

IP is a set of specifications that standardises how things work in internet-connected devices. An internet protocol describes how data packets move through a network when used in a network communication context.

A protocol ensures that all machines on a network (or in the world, in the case of the internet), no matter how different they are, speak the same “language” and can integrate into the framework.

The IP protocol standardises the manner in which machines on the internet or any IP network forward or route packets based on their IP addresses.

IP Routing

Routing, along with addressing, is one of the primary functions of the IP protocol. Routing is the process of forwarding IP packets from source to destination machines across a network using their IP addresses.

This transmission is usually done via a router. The router determines the next destination through a series of routers using the destination IP address.


The internet highway traffic controller is created when Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and IP are combined. TCP and IP collaborate to send data over the internet, but at different levels.

TCP is in charge of making the connection reliable because IP does not guarantee reliable packet delivery over a network.

TCP is the protocol that ensures transmission reliability. TCP specifically guarantees:

  • No packets are lost.
  • The packets are in the right order.
  • The delay is at an acceptable level.
  • There is no duplication of packets.

All of this is done to ensure that the data received is consistent, in order, complete, and smooth (to avoid hearing broken speech).

TCP comes before IP during data transmission. TCP encapsulates data in TCP packets before sending it to IP, which encapsulates it in IP packets.

IP Addresses

For many computer users, IP addresses are the most intriguing and mysterious aspect of IP. An IP address is a unique set of numbers that identifies a computer, server, electronic device, router, phone, or other device on a network.

The IP address is required for IP packet routing and forwarding from source to destination. The internet would be unable to send your email and other data without IP addresses.

In a nutshell, TCP handles data while IP handles location.

An IPv4 address is the most common type of IP address (for version 4 of the IP technology). Its 32-bit addressing provides approximately 4.3 billion IP addresses, but as mobile devices and Internet of Things devices proliferated, more IP addresses were required. A new type of IP address, iPv6, has been deployed, and its 128-bit addressing provides such a large number of addresses that we will theoretically never need more.

IP Packets

An IP packet is a basic information unit. It carries data as well as an IP header. On a TCP/IP network, any piece of data, including TCP packets, is broken into bits and placed into packets for transmission over the network.

When the packets arrive at their destination, the original data is reassembled.

When Voice Meets IP

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses this ubiquitous carrier technology to send and receive voice data packets between machines via services such as Skype.

IP is where VoIP gets its power, the ability to make a service cheaper and more flexible by utilizing an already existing data carrier.

Frequently Ask Question

How to change your IP address

If you want to change your IP address on your home computer, there are a few options—some simple, some not so much. Before attempting the more complicated/technical methods described below, you can begin with something simple.

  • Simply turn your modem off or unplug it for about five minutes. (You do not need to turn off your computer.) In many cases, just doing this will change your IP address when you reconnect to the internet.
  • If that does not work, unplug your modem overnight and check your IP address the next morning.

What is a cookie?

An Internet cookie is a small packet of data (a piece of computer code) sent to your computer by a web host when you visit that host’s website. A cookie is the term used to describe a type of message sent by a Web server to a Web browser. It is then sent back to the web host—automatically and behind the scenes—every time you visit that website.

Websites use cookies for a variety of practical reasons, none of which are intended to be harmful to you. In fact, they are intended to make your online experience as smooth and simple as possible. Its primary functions are to recognize you as a regular website visitor or customer, to present you with customized Web pages (based on the information the cookie has on you), and to make it quick and easy to log in to a site.

How Your IP Address Can Lead to Your Front Door

You probably don’t give your IP address much thought, but maybe it’s time you did.

Most people (including you) are aware that their IP address is a type of digital address that allows the Internet to deliver content to your computer.

And you may be aware that 99 percent of the time, no one else knows or cares about your IP address.

But there’s more you should know.

  • Your IP address functions similarly to a beacon on the Internet.
  • Your IP address functions as a beacon on the Internet.
  • Your IP address provides more than just a number to websites and people with whom you have interacted online.

It also allows them to trace that IP address back to you if they so desire.

What’s a Private IP address?

Local addresses on home routers are set to a default, private IP address number. It’s usually the same address as the other models from that manufacturer, as shown in the manufacturer’s documentation.

What is IPv6?

The Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is a network layer protocol that allows data to be transmitted over a packet switched network. Packet switching is the process of sending and receiving data in packets between two network nodes. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) published the working standard for the IPv6 protocol in 1998. RFC 2460 is the IETF specification for IPv6. IPv6 was designed to replace the widely used Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4), which is regarded as the modern Internet’s backbone. Because of its expanded capabilities and recent large-scale deployments, IPv6 is frequently referred to as the “next generation Internet.” In 2004, Japan and Korea were recognized as having the first public IPv6 deployments.

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