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Network Programming


Internet protocols

IP may refer to any of the following:

The Internet Protocol (IP) is the method or protocol by which data is sent from one computer
to another on the Internet. Each computer (known as a host) on the Internet has at least one IP
address that uniquely identifies it from all other computers on the Internet. 

When you send or receive data (for example, an e-mail note or a Web page), the message gets
divided into little chunks called packets. Each of these packets contains both the sender's
Internet address and the receiver's address. Any packet is sent first to a gateway computer
that understands a small part of the Internet. The gateway computer reads the destination
address and forwards the packet to an adjacent gateway that in turn reads the destination
address and so forth across the Internet until one gateway recognizes the packet as belonging
to a computer within its immediate neighborhood or domain. That gateway then forwards the
packet directly to the computer whose address is specified.

Short for Internet Protocol address, an IP or IP address is a number (example shown right)
used to indicate the location of a computer or other device on a network using TCP/IP. These
addresses are similar to those of your house, allowing data to reach the appropriate
destination on a network and the Internet.

IPv4 vs. IPv6

As the Internet and technology evolve, there has been an increasing demand for IP addresses.
To help meet the demand for IP addresses, there are two types of addresses used
today: IPv4 and IPv6. Although you may only deal with an IPv4 address in your local home,
school, or small office, you should also be aware of IPv6 addresses for when you encounter

Example of an IPv4 address:
Example of an IPv6 address:
IP address classes

With an IPv4 IP address, there are five classes of available IP ranges: Class A, Class B, Class
C, Class D and Class E, while only A, B, and C are commonly used. Each class allows for a
range of valid IP addresses, shown in the following table.

Class Address Range Supports

Class A to Supports 16 million hosts on each of 127 networks.

Class B to Supports 65,000 hosts on each of 16,000 networks.
Class C to Supports 254 hosts on each of 2 million networks.
Class D to Reserved for multicast groups.
Class E to Reserved for future use, or Research and Development Pur
Ranges 127.x.x.x are reserved for the loopback or localhost, for example, is the
loopback address. Range broadcasts to all hosts on the local network.
IP address breakdown

Every IP address is broken down into four sets of octets and translated into binary to
represent the actual IP address. The below table is an example of the IP If
you are new to binary, we highly recommend reading our binary and hexadecimal
conversions section to get a better understanding of what we're doing in the below charts.

IP: 255 255 255 255

Binary value: 11111111 11111111 11111111 11111111
Octet value: 8 8 8 8
For an example, let's break down the IP "" in the following table. The first row
contains the separate sections of the IP address, the second has binary values, and the third
row shows how the binary value equals the section of the IP address.
IP: 166 70 10 23

Binary value: 10100110 01000110 00001010 00010111

Numerical value: 128+32+4+2=166 64+4+2=70 8+2=10 16+4+2+1=23

Automatically assigned addresses

There are IP addresses that are automatically assigned (dynamic allocation) when you set up
a home network. These default addresses are what allow your computer and other network
devices to communicate and broadcast information over your network. Below are the most
commonly assigned default addresses for home networks. 0 is the automatically assigned network address. 1 is the commonly used address used as the gateway. 2 is also a commonly used address used for a gateway. - 254 Addresses beyond 3 are assigned to computers and devices on the network. 255 is automatically assigned on most networks as the broadcast address.
If you have ever connected to your home network, you should be familiar with the gateway
address or, which is the address you use to connect to your home network router
to change its settings. Another common IP range that may be used is
Getting an IP address

By default, the router you use will assign each of your computers their own IP address, often
using NAT to forward the data coming from those computers to outside networks such as the
Internet. If you need to register an IP address that can be seen on the Internet, you must
register through InterNIC or use a web host that can assign you addresses.

Anyone who connects to the Internet is assigned an IP address by their Internet Service
Provider (ISP), which has registered a range of IP addresses. For example, let's assume your
ISP is given 100 addresses, In this range, the ISP owns addresses to and can assign any address in that range to its customers.
So, all these addresses belong to your ISP until they are assigned to a customers computer. In
the case of a dial-up connection, you are given a new IP address each time you dial into your
ISP. With most broadband Internet service providers, you are always connected to the
Internet your address rarely changes. It remains the same until the service provider requires

The above picture is taken from our "How do computers connect to each other over the
Internet" page and gives a good overview of how a computer can talk to another computer
over the Internet using an IP address.
Other internet protocols

An IP is just one type of protocols the Internet and networks use to communicate. There are
dozens of other protocols that are also used for communication between other programs and
devices. For example, SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is a protocol to send e-mail
from one computer to another computer. See our protocol page for a list of other popular