Answering one of the most Google’d question: ‘What is my IP address?’

Home Technology Answering one of the most Google’d question: ‘What is my IP address?’
Answering one of the most Google’d question: ‘What is my IP address?’

What is my IP? It’s an odd question in most people’s minds, yet it’s one of the top ten most-searched questions on Google.

Those who know what an IP address is will already know most of these searches are coming from people who understand what they’re searching for. But for the rest of us, a more relevant question might be: what is an IP address?

Across the globe, there are billions of computing devices that connect to the internet. To communicate, each device needs an address, just like our homes.

Our home address is typically structured along the lines of “number, street, city, postcode, country”. And our entire postal delivery network is based on this system.

Our digital world is similar and has an address system that allows network traffic to move around the internet. So, an IP (internet protocol) address — which also has its own implicit structure — is fundamentally a numeric address for an endpoint on the internet.

An online content delivery system

Akin to postal addresses, IP addresses are assigned to each recipient in a worldwide infrastructure. The recipient could be a single device such as a laptop, phone, tablet, or even your air-conditioner controller — but could also be a network entry point to a large organization.

Since its inception, IP was designed with simplicity and efficiency in mind. That’s why it has remained effective at handling internet traffic, starting on a network with four nodes in the late 1960s, to billions of devices today.

An IP address is a number in binary format, which means it has 32 digits (or bits) comprising 1s and 0s. The address is typically grouped as four 8-bit numbers, so each number is eight digits that are either a 1 or 0.

But we usually view IP addresses in a decimal format, wherein the value between 00000000-11111111 becomes a number between 0 and 255. So the complete IP address space ranges from 0.0.0.0 through to 255.255.255.255.

See an example below, using the IP address of one of the servers that hosts theconversation.com.

Examples of the same IP address in three different notations. Author provided