There are two types of IP addresses: public and private

An IP Address is a string of numbers that’s assigned to a device on the internet. It’s like a home’s mailing address, helping computers recognize and “speak” to each other. It’s the basis for the TCP/IP protocol system, the rulebook for how to connect and communicate with network computers worldwide.

The global internet is made up of millions of interconnected devices, and each one needs a unique identifier so they can talk to each other. The IP address is that identifier, and it’s used by everything on the internet, from websites to email services to streaming media. Without it, all our devices would just scream into the void, unable to reach one another.

There are two types of IP addresses: public and private. Most devices on a home or small business network have a local IP address that’s assigned to them by their router (the hardware that connects a local network to the internet). That local address isn’t shared with the wider world, so only those who know it can see it.

The devices that do have an external-facing IP address are the ones people use to access online gaming, video and audio streaming, web and email servers and other business applications. People can choose between having a dynamic or static IP address, but static addresses are usually reserved for larger network infrastructure and have more security risks if not properly configured and supported by secure protocols.

Your IP address is also how the internet how to login 192.168.o.1 knows where you live, which helps website owners to show you products and content that are relevant to your location. For example, if you click on something on YouTube, your computer’s IP address lets the video platform know you are located in the United States, and it can then show you videos that are licensed for use in this country.

While it isn’t a form of personal identification information, like your name or phone number, your IP address can be used by cybercriminals to steal your identity and other personal details. That’s why it’s important to have strong passwords and keep your devices updated with the latest software.

You might think that with billions of devices connected to the internet, there would be no shortage of available IP addresses. But that’s not the case, and it has to do with how the addresses are allocated. The global internet is governed by the International Assigned Numbers Authority, which assigns blocks of IP addresses to regional internet registries. Those registries then distribute the addresses to internet service providers, which allocate them to their customers. As the demand for internet capacity has risen, North America has received a larger share of IPv4 allocations than other regions, which means that there aren’t enough addresses to go around right now. But, with the arrival of IPv6, that should change.