An Internet protocol address, more frequently and commonly known as an IP address, is a unique numeric address that electronic devices use to identify and communicate with each other while working on a computer network. These numbers are also used to collect data for geographic locations. Any device participating in the computer network will have an IP address, including computers, modems, routers, switches, printers, Internet fax machines, some telephones, and infrastructure servers. An Internet protocol address is used only for communication on the computer network and does not act as an identifier. An identifier is a similar concept that uniquely identifies other devices in the network.
IP addresses are created and managed by the IANA, which stands for the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. The IANA delegates certain number super-blocks to certain registries, called Regional Internet Registries, which then assign the numbers to Internet service providers and smaller enterprises depending on the region in which they are located. This system was created so that every computer and device on computer networks has an IP address and is therefore able to be tracked for localized results.
Today’s Internet protocol addresses have two versions in current use. The type of IP address usually prevalent in today’s usage is the IP version 4 addresses. Also called IPv4, these addresses only use 32-bit addresses and limit the address space to a certain number of unique possible addresses. IPv4 addresses are generally presented in dotted-decimal notations, which are more frequently seen as four numbers that each range from zero to 255 and are separated by periods or decimal points. Private devices, or those not connected to the computer network, do not require individual IP addresses, and private networks do not need to be registered.