IP Addresses and What They Mean for You

When you are online you may hear someone saying something about an IP address. This leads to the questions; what is an IP address? and what does it have to do with you? Most people only know that an IP address is something that relates to the internet. However, there is much more to it than this. IPs are an important factor to consider when you compare broadband for business. This article will take a look at the ins and out of IP addresses.

What is an IP address?
To put it simply an IP address is the unique number given to your broadband connection when you use the internet. If you want to look a bit deeper than this you have to understand that you cannot talk about an IP address without including maths. By understanding all that you can about an IP address you will be able to spot connection issues and understand a bit of technical jargon when people try and confuse you.

IP addresses are used by programmes and broadband providers to identify your computer from the millions of other computers connected to the internet. IP addresses are much like a phone number as they contain certain bits of information about you like your geographic location.

How to check your IP address
If you are curious about what an IP address looks like you can check and see what yours is. There are a few ways that this can be done.

The easiest way is to use an online IP address checker. These checkers will locate your IP address for you and you dont have to do anything other than click a start button.

If you are using Windows Vista or 7 you can find your IP address through the following commands. Open your start bar and type in CMD into the search area. This will bring up a black box. In this box you need to type ipconfig and then press enter. You should now have your IP address.

If you are using a MAC then the process is a little different. You should go to applications then utilities and then terminal. There you should type in ipconfig and press enter. The computer should tell you your IP address.
For people in the UK IP addresses generally start with 192.168. The numbers that follow this will vary from person to person in order to create a unique address.

Bad IP addresses
It is possible to get a bad IP address. These bad IP addresses will stop you from connecting to the internet correctly. In fact if your IP address ever starts with the number 169 you will not be able to connect to the internet. The use of the number 169 is the router or broadband modems way of saying that there is a problem and there is no way that I can give you the correct IP address.

For people who experience this problem at the office it is best to call in your IT support. Of course if you are at home then you will not have a handy IT person that you can call in. The best option for home users is to unplug their router or modem for around 30 second. You should then turn the device back on and hopefully the problem should be gone.

If you are working on a wireless connection and the turn off and on again solution does not work it may be time to bring out the cables. Connecting your computer to the router may solve the problem. If this does not work it is best to call your service provider and there is a problem.

Internet history and IPv4
When the internet was first made available to people IPv4 was the IP address standard. The most common and recognisable of IPv4 addresses appear as The reason for this is that the range of 0.1 to 0.255 is what was used for home IP addresses.

IP addresses are made up of 4 sets of numbers some of which are unique to each IP address. All 4 of the sets will be numbers in the range of 0 and 255. This means that each set has 256 options. You can now see that there are 4 million different IP addresses using this first IP standard. It is possible to calculate this by multiplying the options of each set by the number of sets in each address.

While it may seem that 4 million unique IP addresses is a lot you have to think about how many people there are in the world. When the IPv4 address was created the internet was new and computers were not as easily available as they are now. Now not only do computers need and IP address but mobile devices as well.

Now any IP address system will only be able to produce a limited number of IP addresses. You may be wondering how this problem is being solved? There are two ways that the problem of internet addresses is being solved. The first is through the use of dynamic IP addresses and the other is through the use of subnets.

Dynamic IP addresses their impact when you compare broadband for business
If every single device that connected to the internet was assigned its own IP addresses indefinitely we would have run out of IP addresses a long time ago. The reason for this is that most people have at least two devices that connect to the internet either via a fixed line connection or through mobile broadband.

To avoid running out of IP addresses service providers assign the IP addresses they do have to internet connections dynamically. This means that they rotate the use of the IP address. At any one time there will be some IP addresses not in use. So when you log onto the internet your service provider simply assigns you the next free IP address on their list.

Of course it is possible to have an IP address that is assigned to you at all times. These are called static IP addresses and they are often included in business broadband packages. It is possible to get on with your home connection for an additional fee. Gamers often need a static IP address so that they can set up a gaming server; or their games can anyway. Business and gamers should factor in the availability of static IPS when they compare broadband packages.

Sam Jones wanted to compare broadband deals to make sure he was getting value for money. Sites like uSwitch proved to be really informative and he managed to save a little money each month


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