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All You Need to Know About IPs

Posted Wed, November 5, 2014 by Julie Short

While we normally use the blog to address web design and Internet marketing topics, we’re going to take a different track in the coming weeks and fill you in on a few IT subjects and “behind-the-scenes” ideas that relate to the web. The idea is to not just give you a better sense of how things like websites and email work, but also to clear up a bit of confusion and share a clearer understanding of the kinds of issues we and our clients deal with on a regular basis.

That being said, a common question we hear is: “What is an IP?”

The abbreviation itself stands for Internet protocol, which is basically a formula for how information can be sent back and forth over the Internet. An IP address, which you’ve probably also heard of, simply refers to the numerical “name” and location of any device connected to a network (or the Internet itself).

In other words, the IP address of your machine (which could consist of 32 digits or more) is akin to the mailing address of your home or office – it tells other machines where to look for the specific device and destination.

With those quick definitions out of the way, here are a few things you should know about IPs:

There are billions and billions of possible IP combinations. With homes and businesses running more and more devices than ever, you might be worried we’ll run out soon. But with the recent expansion of digits, there are several billion possible combinations, meaning that we still have plenty of room to grow.

They can be permanent or temporary. IPs can be static or dynamic, with dynamic being more common. That means the IP address for a specific device or machine is often issued temporarily. If it expires, or another machine attempts to use the same IP, your router or network will normally assign a new one without you ever knowing.

Some IPs are reserved and serve special functions. In the same way that phone numbers like “0” and “911” are reserved for special uses, so are certain IP addresses. As an example, is set aside for network broadcast messages, and is usually used by a computer to identify itself.

Most IPs are actually on a subnet. In most cases, the IP you receive is assigned to you by your Internet service provider. From there, the router in your home or office puts each device on a subnet, assigning it another number that falls under the address assigned for the location.

There’s a lot more you could know about IPs, but advanced technical knowledge is usually only relevant to IT professionals and network administrators. Besides, you now know more about Internet protocol and IP addresses than most of your non-IT coworkers!

Do you need a web design and online marketing partner who can help you make the most of opportunities on the web? Now is a great time to talk with WebRevelation and see how we can help your company grow.

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