What is an IP address (Internet Protocol Address)? Introduces basic concepts of Internet connectivity

Explanation of IT Terms

What is an IP address?

An IP address, short for Internet Protocol address, is a unique identifier assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. It serves as a virtual address, allowing devices to send and receive data over the internet.

How does an IP address work?

When you connect to the internet, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns you an IP address. This address consists of a series of numbers separated by periods, such as Each IP address has two main components: the network address and the host address.

The network address identifies the network to which a device belongs, and the host address identifies the specific device within that network. This division allows efficient routing of data packets across the internet.

IP addresses come in two main formats: IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4, the older version, consists of four sets of numbers ranging from 0 to 255, as shown in the example. However, due to the rapid growth of internet-connected devices, IPv4 addresses are nearly exhausted. As a result, IPv6 was introduced, using a hexadecimal format and providing a significantly larger pool of unique addresses.

Why are IP addresses important?

IP addresses play a crucial role in internet connectivity. They enable devices to communicate with each other over networks, facilitating data transmission and routing. Without IP addresses, it would be impossible for devices to find and connect to each other on the internet.

Additionally, IP addresses allow websites and online services to track and differentiate users. This tracking ability enables personalization of services, such as location-based content, targeted advertisements, and network security measures.


In summary, an IP address is a unique identifier assigned to devices connected to a computer network using the Internet Protocol. It enables efficient communication and routing of data packets across the internet. Understanding IP addresses is essential in comprehending how devices connect and interact with each other in the digital world.

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