It’s simple: without them, we wouldn’t be able to identify specific devices or web locations, and we wouldn’t be able to send data to each other. It would be impossible to browse websites, send emails, or make video calls.
What does an IP address look like?
There are currently two different versions of IP addresses in use: IPv4 and IPv6, and they each look different.
IPv4 addresses are written as a string of four groups of numbers between 0 and 255, which are separated by dots. A typical IPv4 address looks like this:
The dots just make these addresses easier for us to read and have no other function.
IPv6 addresses are considerably longer strings of numbers, so they are written using hexadecimals (a numbering system using letters and numbers), which can fit more information into fewer digits. In addition to the 10 digits 0-9, six letters are added a-f. This means that each digit can have 16 different values, which means more combinations. An IPv6 address has 8 groups of four hexadecimals separated by colons rather than dots.
Often these addresses can be simplified. If you see two colons together it means only 0s are contained between them. So our example could also be written like this: