An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned tae each device (e.g., computer, printer) pairticipatin in a computer network that uises the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves twa principal functions: host or network interface identification an location addressin.
Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) defines an IP address as a 32-bit nummer. Houiver, acause o the growthe o the Internet an the depletion o available IPv4 addresses, a new version o IP (IPv6), uisin 128 bits for the IP address, wis developed in 1995, an staundartised as RFC 2460 in 1998. IPv6 deployment haes been ongaein syne the mid-2000s.
IP addresses are uisually written an displayed in human-readable notations, sic as 172.16.254.1 in IPv4, an 2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1 in IPv6. The size o the routin prefix o the address is designatit in CIDR notation bi suffixin the address wi the nummer o signeeficant bits, e.g., 192.168.1.15/24, that is equivalent tae the historically uised subnet mask 255.255.255.0.
The IP address space is managed globally bi the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), an bi five regional Internet registries (RIRs) responsible in thair designatit territories for assignment tae end uisers an local Internet registries, sic as Internet service providers. IPv4 addresses hae been distributit bi IANA tae the RIRs in blocks o approximately 16.8 million addresses ilk. Ilk ISP or private network admeenistrator assigns an IP address tae ilk device connectit tae its network. Sic assignments mey be on a static (fixed or permanent) or dynamic basis, dependin on its saftware an practices.