The Internet is a massive kingdom. With the number of networks and the millions of devices that daily get connected, chaos could be the king ruling it. But an order is required to be efficient, and creators knew it. That’s why they developed protocols like the IP.
What is IP?
Internet protocol (IP) is a group of communication rules for controlling the format of all the data sent through local networks or the Internet.
The things that most people know about it are the IP addresses.
IP establishes the most convenient structures for packets to transport the data until they are delivered. It also involves different ways of addressing. And it routes datagrams across networks. The delivery of data packets from a source to its destination relies on IP addresses.
The Internet has to know who is talking with. Who requests something and for who an answer is: servers, routers, websites, computers, smartphones, Internet of Things (IoT), etc. IP addresses help to identify and to make accessible machines, devices involved in a specific communication. That is how the exchange of data is possible.
What is IPv4?
Internet protocol version 4 (IPv4) is a widely used version of the IP. It is not the newest but still it is very popular. Through IPv4 addresses, identification of devices on networks is possible. Their structure is 4 numbers between 0 to 254, separated by dots, just like this one: 188.8.131.52. IPv4 uses a 32-bit address space.
IPv4 is the result of the TCP/IP improvement. It was used for the first time in 1982 by SATNET, and in 1983, by ARPANET.
It is a connectionless protocol, meaning that messages can be sent without a previous arrangement between two endpoints on a network. One device sends data to another without checking if the recipient is available and with the conditions for receiving the data.
IPv4 works on a best-effort delivery model. It is not part of its mission to guarantee the proper delivery. It is neither responsible for avoiding duplicate delivery, securing the order, nor protecting data integrity. It needs a teammate, another protocol to be in charge of such tasks, like the popular TCP (transmission control protocol).
Shortly, IPv4 only defines the format, communicates, addresses, and routes data.
This functionality makes it an essential resource for different interconnecting networks and for transmitting data from sources to their destinations. First, the data’s format is checked. If it’s too big, it is cut in parts for better transmission. Then these datagrams travel from an Internet module to another to reach the destination.
Advantages of IPv4.
- IPv4 is four decades old. Time enough for improving it and guarantee systems support. Nowadays, it is not an issue for systems to handle this version. IPv6 means attractive upgrades but still has a long way to be as supported as IPv4.
- IPv4’s prefixes are simple. This is convenient for networks’ topology, physical and logical. They fit easier.
- IPv4 addresses are easier to type manually if needed. They are shorter than IPv6 ones—fewer possibilities of human mistakes.
Disadvantages of IPv4.
- There are not many IPv4 addresses available anymore. There are millions of connected devices in the world, and each needs a unique IP address to connect successfully. Currently, we are already in the transition to the latest Internet protocol, version 6 (IPv6).
- IPv4 header is limited to 60 bytes. No more parameters can be added.
- IPv4 is well supported by all systems. Many people prefer it. This increases the price of the available IPv4.
- IPv4 does not originally support Internet protocol security (IPsec). The protocol to authenticate and encrypt data packets for securing them. You can configure it, but it’s not an easy process.
IPv4 is the past, and IPv6 is the future. Slowly we are going to start saying goodbye to the old one and welcome the new.