IP address - Internet Protocol (IP) address
IP address is short for Internet Protocol (IP) address. An IP address is an identifier for a computer or device on a TCP/IP network. Networks using the TCP/IP protocol route messages based on the IP address of the destination. Contrast with IP, which specifies the format of packets, also called datagrams, and the addressing scheme.
Recommended Reading: Webopedia's Internet Protocol (IP) definition.
The Format of an IP Address
The format of an IP address is a 32-bit numeric address written as four numbers separated by periods. Each number can be zero to 255. For example, 184.108.40.206 could be an IP address.
Within an isolated network, you can assign IP addresses at random as long as each one is unique. However, connecting a private network to the Internet requires using registered IP addresses (called Internet addresses) to avoid duplicates.
Static Versus Dynamic IP Addresses
An IP address can be static or dynamic. A static IP address will never change and it is a permanent Internet address. A dynamic IP address is a temporary address that is assigned each time a computer or device accesses the Internet.
The four numbers in an IP address are used in different ways to identify a particular network and a host on that network. Four regional Internet registries -- ARIN, RIPE NCC, LACNIC and APNIC-- assign Internet addresses from the following three classes:
Class A - supports 16 million hosts on each of 126 networks
Class B - supports 65,000 hosts on each of 16,000 networks
Class C - supports 254 hosts on each of 2 million networks
The number of unassigned Internet addresses is running out, so a new classless scheme called CIDR is gradually replacing the system based on classes A, B, and C and is tied to adoption of IPv6. In IPv6 the IP address size is increased from 32 bits to 128 bits.
What is My IP Address?
To view your IP address you can use the ipconfig (IPCONFIG) command line tool. Ipconfig displays all current TCP/IP network configuration values and refreshes Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name System (DNS) settings.
To launch the command prompt from a Windows-based computer click: Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt. Type ipconfig and press the Enter key.
You can also use Google search to find your IP address. Type "what is my IP address" as a search query and Google will show the IP address of the computer from which the query was received as the top search result.
Related Webopedia Articles
IT Solutions Builder TOP IT RESOURCES TO MOVE YOUR BUSINESS FORWARD
Which topic are you interested in?
What is your company size?
What is your job title?
What is your job function?
Searching our resource database to find your matches...
Stay up to date on the latest developments in Internet terminology with a free weekly newsletter from Webopedia. Join to subscribe now.
The following facts and statistics capture the changing landscape of cloud computing and how service providers and customers are keeping up with... Read More »Facts about Computer Science: Education and Jobs
The following computer science facts and statistics provide a quick introduction to the changing trends in education and related careers. Read More »Texting & Chat Abbreviations
From A3 to ZZZ this guide lists 1,500 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Read More »
Learn about each of the five generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that we use... Read More »Computer Architecture Study Guide
Computer architecture provides an introduction to system design basics for most computer science students. Read More »Network Fundamentals Study Guide
Networking fundamentals teaches the building blocks of modern network design. Learn different types of networks, concepts, architecture and... Read More »