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One hears again and again about the so-called IP address. But what is an IP address? The IP address is to be compared with the address of a house. You can use this address to find the house and deliver mail, for example. This scheme is also used on the Internet to send data to the right computer. The network standard used here is the Internet Protocol (IP).
Every computer with Internet access has one or more IP addresses. Such a unique address can be used to identify the device with Internet access. This is the only way to ensure that the data that is requested via the computer arrives on the computer. When a website is accessed, the browser transmits the IP address of the computer. This gives the server on which the data is stored a delivery address. The requested data is only returned to the querying computer by the IP address.
The IP addresses of the old IPv4 standard are widely known. Here the IP address consists of four numbers in the range from 0 to 255. The four numbers of the IP address are separated by dots, so that an IP address looks like this:
Since only a limited number of IP addresses can be represented with this old variant, however, there is the newer IPv6 standard. This IP address is significantly longer and contains letters as well as numbers. In total, the IP address consists of eight character blocks; zeros may also be replaced by colons, so that the IP address becomes clearer.
The IP address can be used to find out the provider that assigns the address and the approximate location of the device. However, an IP address is usually reassigned at each Internet session, so a device does not always have the same IP address. This is because the providers usually have a limited number of addresses and distribute them as required, since all users will never be online at the same time. However, in addition to this dynamic allocation of IP addresses, there are also static addresses, for example for servers and dedicated lines. However, the private customer will usually receive a dynamic IP address.
In your own home you don't notice much of these provider allocations at first. Your own devices, be it PC or smartphone, are not directly connected to the Internet, but only to your own router, which functions as a gateway and through which all requests pass - the router is practically an Internet distributor. Dynamic IP addresses, which are assigned internally by the router but are not visible to the outside world, are also usually used in the home network.
The address visible on the Internet, i.e. that of the router, is often easiest to find if you ask your trusted search engine: "What is my IP address like?
With the internal addresses this is not quite so easy. In Windows 7, for example, under Control Panel - Network and Internet - Network and Sharing Center, you have to select your own Internet connection by clicking on the corresponding link and then selecting "Details".