Just like every house has a number, every computer connected to the internet has an IP address. It allows other users to instantly recognize each device in the network. An IP address consists of a set of unique numbers which individualize every connected device – a personal computer, a server, router, even an IP telephone. Thanks to this combination of numbers and letters, we can transfer information and data to other devices hooked up to the network working on and IP protocol.

Each device which communicates with a specific network or the internet as a whole has to have an IP address unique to the device. If this assignment fails, many problems can occur. For example, if a hub or a switch fails to recognize or understand the IP address of another device, it cannot send the data to the right place. These problems, called IP conflicts, are sometimes so serious that they can lead to complete network failure.

How does an IP address look like?

IP-AddressIf you ever wanted to set up a router at your home, you must have seen it. To communicate with the router, you have to type its address into your browser. It is a set of numbers with the following form: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx, and each xxx can be a number between 0 and 255. This type of IP address is known as IPv4 because it consists of 32-bits. Every part of the address is an 8-bit part.

Technically, every IP address has two main parts. The first part is the network part. This represents the class of the address used within the network. The second part is the host part. This is the part of the address which makes it unique inside the network.  Let’s explain this with an example. If the address of a device is 192.168.10.21, then the first three groups of numbers are the network part. They describe the network, and the last set of numbers (in this case 21) represent the host part and serve to point out a single device in the network specifically.

How do I find the IP address of my computer?

Whenever you are connected to a network, whether it is the internet or a local network, you can find your IP address easily. Go to the Run tab in your Start button and then type “command.” A new window will then appear, and you can then type “ipconfig.” Then the computer will show all the devices inside your computer which are connected to the internet or local networks and show you the IP address for each of these (wifi controller, Ethernet controller and so on).

The format of the address will, when it comes to the IPv4 address, always be as described above: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx. Another type of IP address is the IPv6, but this will be explained in another article. Now you understand the basic structure of IP addresses, the way computer devices communicate with the Internet or other networks.