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What is an IP address?

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What is an IP address?

What is a IP address?

IP addresses are like networking telephone numbers -- when you want to call someone on the phone, you must first know their telephone number. Similarly, when a computer on the Internet needs to send data to another computer, it needs to know its IP address. IP addresses are typically shown as four numbers separated by decimal points, or "dots." For example, and are IP addresses.

If you need to make a phone call but you only know the person's name, you can look them up in the phone book,  (or call directory services) to get their phone number. On the Internet, that directory is called the Domain Name System, or DNS for short. If you know the name of a server, say www.cert.org, and you type this into your web browser, your computer will then go ask its DNS server what the numeric IP address is that is associated with that name.

Every computer that is on the Internet has an IP address associated with it that uniquely identifies it. However, that address may change over time, especially if the computer is

Dialing into an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Connected behind a network firewall

Connected to a broadband service using dynamic IP addressing

So what is static and dynamic addressing?

Static IP addressing occurs when an ISP permanently assigns one or more IP addresses for each user. These addresses are hard set and do not change over time. A static IP address is required if you have a computer that is connected on the Internet but not necessarily hosting a website, its primarily used for a remote desktop connection. A remote desktop connection lets you extend your internal network to another computer that could be thousands of miles away and it would appear just like it is in the next room. If you did not have a static IP address and either the host or remote computer in the remote desktop connection was to get shutdown and restarted very likely you would get assigned a new IP address and your remote desktop connection would no longer work without reconfiguring it.

Dynamic IP addressing allows the ISP to efficiently utilize their address space. Using dynamic IP addressing, the IP addresses of individual user computers may change over time. If a dynamic address is not in use, it can be automatically reassigned to another computer as needed.


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