IP addresses (also known as Internet Protocol addresses) are the principal communications protocols for the Internet. There are currently two types:
- IPv4 - a combination of four sets of numbers separated by periods (for example, 188.8.131.52)
- IPv6 - represented as eight groups of four hexadecimal numbers separated by colons (for example, 2001:0db8:0000:0042:0000:8a2e:0370:7334)
The latter was introduced because IPv4 has been exhausted due to the rapid growth of the Internet, since each computer connected to the Internet has a unique IP address. An IP address is used as the computer's ID on the Internet so it can send and receive information from other computers on the network.
While computers can store, recall, and work with multiple numbers very easily, humans have trouble remembering random series of numbers. To address this, the Domain Name System (DNS) was created.