What is a Server Address?

What is a Server Address?

Our interactions with the internet are governed by a unique set of instructions or protocols if you will. Server addresses play a key role in having our requests on the internet addressed, and responses routed back to our connected devices. Here’s how Server Address works will be discussed in the following article here.

Server

Severs are computers that collect, store and transmit information to other devices across a network. These other devices are typically referred to as ‘’clients’’ in what is known as a client-server architecture. For the clients to communicate with the server or ask for information, they need its unique address and vice versa. In essence, addresses are how devices across a network on the internet interact, according to internet protocol.

Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses

The Internet protocol is the most widely recognized protocol used to route and address messages on the internet. These messages are called ‘’packets’’ and carry the information on where the messages should be sent in their headers in IP addresses. The packets also contain the body of the message in another section. This transmission of information between devices on a network is referred to as packet switching.

How do you identify IP Addresses?

They are a string of numbers that typically look something like this 216.58.223.238. Without them, you would not communicate with other devices on the internet, surf the web, check your email, transfer files, etc. The IP address identifies the location of a specific server on the internet. However, we do not often need to interact with them because they are hard to remember and are not user-friendly. Domain Name Systems (DNS) means that IP address identification is left to computer devices. You and I do not necessarily have to know the IP address for google.com is 216.58.223.238 to interact with google servers search on the internet. However, you could find out if you were curious;

  • For Windows
  1. Click on the Windows Home button on your taskbar.
  2. Type in ‘’Command Prompt’’ in the search bar.
  3. Open the Command Prompt application.
  4. Type in ‘’ping’’, space, website address, space, ‘’-t.’’ for example (ping google.com -t).
  5. Press Enter.
  • For Mac
  1. Open Spotlight and click the magnifying glass icon on the top of the screen.
  2. Open Network Utility.
  3. Click ‘’traceroute’’ located in the tab at the top of the Network Utility window.
  4. Enter a website address in the text box near the top of the window.
  5. Click trace.
  • For Mobile Phones (iPhone and Android)

There are multiple IP address identification apps available on both the iOS and Google Play stores. The steps are quite intuitive, and, in most cases, you would only need to copy and paste a website address from your browser into the app or manually type it out before you are presented with the IP address right there on your screen. You can also download several extensions in your browser on your PC or MAC to serve the same function. A simple search of ‘’IP address’’ or ‘’IP address identifier’’ will show you a slew of applications and extensions you can download to satisfy your curiosity.

How do Domain Name Systems Work?

In the example we used above, ‘’google.com’’ is the domain name for the IP address 216.58.223.238. Every domain name is linked to a specific IP address on the internet, and these domains are translated to an IP address via the Domain Name System. This is how it works;

When users input a domain name on their browser, their internet provider performs a Domain Name System query. This locates the server linked to that domain name and routes the user to the requested site. 

Packet Switching

Packet switching is the method in which data is grouped and transmitted over digital networks and plays an essential part in how servers and connected devices (‘’nodes’’) are located using IP addresses when you search a domain name.

  • Network Address

The left-most part of an IP address is referred to as the network address. This section contains the server’s location data. 

So, say this is our IP address, 198.178.58.189. 

In this example, 198.178 is the network address.

  • Node Address

The rightmost part of an IP address is the ‘’node’’ address- node here refers to the connected devices on the machine, such as a game console or a computer.

So, in the same example, where our IP address is 198.178.58.189.

Then, 58.189 is our node address.

  • Subnet Mask

The subnet masks, sometimes called subnetwork masks, define a range of available IP addresses available on a network using logical partition systems.

If you wanted to connect multiple devices or ‘’nodes’’ on the same network, like your game console, TV, Phone, Computer, etc., the subnet mask makes sure there is the accommodation on the server for these number of devices and masks the network address, making sure unique node addresses only identify the nodes.

Different Versions of IP Addresses

There have been various iterations of IP Addresses, the most recognized ones today are IPv4 and IPv6.

  • IP versions 1 to 3 were experimental versions, developed in the 1970s and never made it to mass adoption.
  • IP version 5 was also an experiment, intended to make it easier to transport human speech over packetized communication networks on the internet was also abandoned but their concepts influenced asynchronous transfer mode protocols and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) years after its conceptualization in 1973-1979.

IPv4 vs. IPv6

The main difference between both versions is that IPv6 allows the larger size of addresses and has significantly reduced the chances of unique IP addresses running out for our different devices within the span of our lifetimes. IPv4 uses 32 bits for addressing, yielding 4.3 billion unique addresses, while IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, yielding approximately 340 undecillion unique addresses- this is hard to visualize. However, imagine 340 trillion, trillion, trillion IP addresses if you can, which massive as it is, is still a finite number, that may be one day exhausted, but hopefully, that isn’t our problem when that day comes.

Who Assigns these IP Addresses?

The organization responsible for assigning and managing IP addresses is the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). They are a non-profit that partitions; IP addresses across the world. They raised the alarm on the depletion of IPv4 addresses in 2011. Although, however, the adoption of IPv6 has been slow due to the comparatively different security and deployment challenged they present. As of June 2008, all United States government systems have demonstrated basic infrastructure support for its adoption.

Dynamic vs. Static IP Addresses

The difference between these IP addresses is exactly as indicated in their names- Static addresses do not change. In contrast, Dynamic addresses change over time, and new ones are usually assigned each time you connect to the network.

  • When do I need a Dynamic IP Address?

 For most use cases, dynamic addresses are recommended, and a common example is the Wi-Fi connection at a coffee shop. It is not required that your device is remembered when you connect, so each time you do, your device is assigned a new IP address.

  • When do I need a Static IP Address?

A Static IP address is useful when you need your device to be easily remembered and identifiable on a network. Say, for instance. You want to build a file-sharing server at your place of work, to allow employees to have access to and share certain files on the network, you want their devices always to remember and easily locate this central server- where the files will be stored, in this case, a static IP address is required. Other examples would be if you wanted to build a company website or company e-mail server.

Benefits of Using a Static IP Address

  1. Improved Server Control; This will allow you to access your site directly from an IP address, like the google.com example we saw earlier. This means that even before you get a domain name, you can build your website, file-sharing services, etc.
  2. Traffic Management; There is a reason companies have unique e-mails such as [email protected], it reduces the number of spam emails you may get as your server has a unique IP address not shared with other users on the internet (with standard g-mail, yahoo mail accounts, etc.). It may also significantly improve your e-mail transmission and receiving times if you send and receive a high volume of e-mails at your business.

Summary

Server Addresses are like one big phone book for the internet. Every device (‘’node’’ or ‘’client’’) needs to have the IP address of a server on a network, whether private or on the internet, to establish a connection. The Server, in turn, uses the IP addresses for each node to locate, route, and deliver data in packets through a method commonly known as packet switching in the network communication protocol.

Also read Women’s Day Special Stories – How Mai Chi Nguyen Got Sales and Marketing internship at Pearson

What is a Server Address?

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