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What Does IP Stand For in IP Address?

What does

We figured that most visitors to WhatIsMyIPAddress.com don’t know a lot about IP topics — and why would they? For the most part, only people involved in IT (information technology) and computer networking need to think about what the IP in IP address stands for.

Still, sometimes the terminology and jargon used (and rarely explained) prevents us from understanding some cool computer stuff. And although most of us don’t really care (or need) to learn more, others like being enlightened, instead of being left in the dark. 

What does IP mean?

First things first: “IP” stands for “Internet Protocol.” Internet Protocol is a set of rules that determine how data is moved over the internet. While there are many kinds of protocols used on the web for parsing different kinds of data, “Internet Protocol” actually names a specific system that was developed in 1974 and is now in version six, or IPv6.

Why Internet Protocol or IP is Important

The Internet Protocol is important because it helps devices communicate with each other over the Internet. It’s like a language, with set rules and guidelines that all devices can use to send, find, and exchange information with each other. Your device connects to a network, like your home network or a company network, which is connected to the internet. 

IP has several protocols that run alongside it, like Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). While IP is responsible for sending the data, TCP is responsible for putting the data back together in the right order before it reaches its destination. DHCP is the set of rules that assigns an IP address to devices and networks. IP addresses are dynamic, so there have to be standards for how they get assigned in order for data to be transferred over the network.

The average user will see this used most often in the term “IP address,” which is why the rest of this quick guide will discuss what IP addresses are and why they matter.

What is an IP address?

An IP address is a series of numbers that identifies a particular network or device on the internet. An IP address is like a physical address or a telephone number. When you want to send someone mail or contact them by phone, you need their address or phone number to reach them.

Similarly, when you want to send data over the internet to someone else, you need their IP address. But you don’t have to keep a list of IP addresses saved in your address book or contacts list. Through the magic of browsers and email clients, finding a webpage or sending mail only requires that you type the website’s name into your browser or you hit “send” on the message in your email client. If the device on the other end is connected to the internet, it will have an IP address and it’ll receive the data you sent.

Types of IP Addresses

There are two types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 was the first version of IP addresses that was developed, and we’ve been using it since 1983. However, we realized that the IPv4 system for generating IP addresses will eventually make us run out of IP addresses to assign. People didn’t realize how big the Internet would get back in 1983. IPv6 was developed to resolve this problem and ensure we have enough IP addresses, but IPv6 still isn’t widely used throughout the world.

  • An example of an IPv4 address is: 192.168.1.2
  • An example of an IPv6 address is: 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334

With the IPv6 system, our number of IP addresses should basically be infinite.

Read our guide to IP addresses if you want to learn more about what an IP address is and what it does.

IP Address Facts

These quick facts about Internet Protocol and IP addresses will help you learn more about what they are and how they work:

  1. IP is actually networking software. It comes with your computer and it makes it possible for you to interact with the internet.
  2. IP is actually part of a longer abbreviation, TCP/IP. That stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. (We’ll call it IP for short.)
  3. The TCP/IP Protocols are actually a set (or stack) of protocols that work in sequence. Think of the set as a team of robot-soldiers who receive, handle, and disburse data.
  4. IP is the universal language of the internet (so to speak): All IP networking software is identical throughout the world; that’s why a computer in China can communicate with a computer in Canada.
  5. IP is versatile. Any computer, phone, or printer on a network has IP software (and therefore an IP address).
  6. The Internet Protocol is at the heart of network connectivity. It is also where IP address activity gets processed.
  7. Any device on a network has and needs an IP Address. That address is a set of numbers and dots. Find out what your IP address is.
  8. Computers identify websites by their IP addresses. Fortunately for us, another protocol, called Domain Name System, or DNS, translates a URL like whatismyipaddress.com into the hexadecimal IP address the software needs.

IP Statistics

  • There are 4.294 billion IPv4 addresses in the world.
  • The three countries with the largest number of IP addresses (IPv4) are the U.S. with over 1.5 billion, China with over 330 million, and Japan with over 202 million.
  • The U.S. holds about 35.9% of all IPv4 IP addresses that are currently assigned in the world.
  • The country with the smallest number of IP addresses in the world is Vatican City, with 17,920.
  • Of the 4.294 billion IPv4 addresses that exist, 600 million are reserved and cannot be used for public routing.
  • According to Hurricane Electric Internet Services, there are only about 4 million IPv4 addresses left to allocate in the world.

Conclusion

Internet Protocol, or IP, may be the most important software you don’t need to know about. It basically runs the internet that we rely on everyday, but most of us will only need to know about it when looking for our IP address, or the place where the internet can find our device.

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