Internet Protocol Address

What Does Internet Protocol Address Mean?

An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a logical numeric address that is assigned to every single computer, printer, switch, router or any other device that is part of a TCP/IP-based network.

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The IP address is the core component on which the networking architecture is built; no network exists without it. An IP address is a logical address that is used to uniquely identify every node in the network. Because IP addresses are logical, they can change. They are similar to addresses in a town or city because the IP address gives the network node an address so that it can communicate with other nodes or networks, just like mail is sent to friends and relatives.

The numerals in an IP address are divided into 2 parts:

  • The network part specifies which networks this address belongs to and
  • The host part further pinpoints the exact location.

Techopedia Explains Internet Protocol Address

An IP address is the most significant and important component in the networking phenomena that binds the World Wide Web together. The IP address is a numeric address assigned to every unique instance that is connected to any computer communication network using the TCP/IP communication protocols.

Network nodes are assigned IP addresses by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server as soon as the nodes connect to a network. DHCP assigns IP addresses using a pool of available addresses which are part of the whole addressing scheme. Though DHCP only provides addresses that are not static, many machines reserve static IP addresses that are assigned to that entity forever and cannot be used again.

IP addresses falls into two types:

  • Classfull IP addressing is a legacy scheme which divides the whole IP address pools into 5 distinct classes—A, B, C, D and E.
  • Classless IP addressing has an arbitrary length of the prefixes.
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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.