IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) Description

IPv4 stands for Internet Protocol Version 4. It is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol (IP) and is the first version of the protocol to be widely deployed. IPv4 is the underlying technology that makes it possible for us to connect our devices to the web. Its most identifying feature is its use of 32-bit addresses.

These addresses are typically represented in dot-decimal notation, which consists of four decimal numbers, each ranging from 0 to 255, separated by dots, for example, The total number of unique addresses in IPv4 is approximately 4.3 billion, which seemed sufficient in the early stages of the internet but has proven to be inadequate due to the explosive growth of the internet and internet-connected devices.

Basic Use of IPv4

  1. Identifying Devices on a Network: Each device connected to an IPv4 network is assigned a unique IP address, which is used to identify and locate that device on the network.
  2. Routing Internet Traffic: IPv4 is used to route internet traffic between devices. When data is sent from one device to another over the internet, IPv4 protocols guide the data to its destination using IP addresses.
  3. Facilitating Communication: It provides a standard method for devices to exchange information over the internet and local networks, ensuring interoperability and communication efficiency.
  4. Supporting TCP/IP: IPv4 is an integral part of the TCP/IP protocol suite, which is the basis for most modern internet communication.
  5. Internet Addressing and Accessibility: IPv4 addresses allow for easy accessibility of servers and websites on the internet. Every website accessible via the internet has an associated IP address.

Limitations and Future

The primary limitation of IPv4 is its limited address space. As the number of devices on the internet has grown, the availability of IPv4 addresses has become increasingly scarce. This limitation has led to the development and gradual adoption of IPv6, which has a much larger address space due to its use of 128-bit addresses.

IPv4 remains in widespread use, but the transition to IPv6 is underway to accommodate future growth and the evolving needs of internet connectivity. IPv6 addresses not only the limitation of address space but also introduces improvements in areas such as routing and network autoconfiguration.


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