Technology

IP address and Port Number: Features and Differences

In this article, we will discuss what are the functions of an IP address and a port number? And the differences between them.

IP Address

IP is a short acronym for ‘Internet Protocol.’ An IP address is a unique identifier that is assigned to every computer or device that is connected to the Internet. The primary function of an IP address is to facilitate online communications. You can also change your IP address with VPN, like VeePN.

Every device that connects to the internet has its own Internet Protocol or IP numbers. Growth in the number of networking devices has resulted in an increased demand for billions of IP addresses. However, this demand can be fulfilled by using either IPv4 or IPv6.

IPv4 (or IPv\mathsf{4}) is the first or initial version of Internet Protocol. It employs a \mathbf{32}-bit addressing technique that allows it to hold more than 4 billion IP addresses (or \mathbf{2^{32} IP addresses).

Meanwhile, there were very few Internet users when IPv4 addressing was first launched.  At that time, the vast majority of networks were private. However, when the Internet flourished, the IPv\mathsf{4} addressing system, which was restricted to 32-bit, ran out of unique IP numbers. To get more unique IP addresses, IPv6 was launched.

IPv6 is the most recent version of Internet Protocol. It is a 128-bit addressing scheme that includes numerous functionalities and storage space that are not available in IPv4. Built-in security, scoped addresses, auto-configuration, quality of service (QoS), a new header format, and wider address space are some of the features available to users. Besides, IPv6 is supported by most operating systems that have been released after 2000.

Let’s have a look at an example of an IPv4 and an IPv6 address:

Public, private, static, and dynamic IP addresses are the four types of IP addresses.

  • A public IP address directs traffic over the Internet and allows remote access to a computer.
  • Private IP addresses are not capable of routing traffic via the Internet and do not accept traffic from the Internet.

These are reserved IP numbers that can only be used on a local network.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) issue static IP addresses to any networking device, and these addresses may be either IPv4 or IPv6 address schemes. Network design changes will not affect this kind of IP address.

The dynamic IP addresses are assigned by DHCP servers, and their configurations are dynamic, meaning they can change their Internet Protocol or IP numbers frequently.

Port Number

A port number is a kind of communication terminal in networking. Depending on the operating system, each process has a unique port number. You may be wondering, “Whats my port, and why do I need it?” Port numbers allow computers to recognize incoming traffic and route it to the appropriate processes. It also serves as a docking station for information that is shared via the internet

In networking, port numbers are used to define which protocol the Operating system will send incoming communication. Ports are considered to be part of the transport layer in the OSI model.

A port’s principal function is to assist a computer in receiving and sending data.

There are a whopping port numbers on today’s computers such as \mathbf{65,535}. Many notable and frequently used port numbers usually involve: \mathsf{20} and \mathsf{21} for FTP, \mathsf{22} for Secure Shell (SSH), \mathsf{23} for Telnet, \mathsf{25} for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and \mathsf{53} for Domain Name System (DNS), and so forth.

What is a server port? Let’s have a look at an example. Using the port number \mathsf{23}, a client computer is attempting to establish a virtual connection with the server. Remote connections through TCP/IP are made possible using Telnet, which connects to a computer via the port number \mathsf{23}. It is immediately launched when the server receives a telnet request, which is identified by the port number \mathsf{23}.

What are the differences in IP address and port number?

We now understand the fundamentals of an IP address and a port number. Let’s have a look at the clear difference between an IP address and port numbers:

  1. An IP address is used for identifying a particular device or a host in a network. While Port number identifies an application or process on a user’s computer.
  2. IP address helps to send information from a sender machine to a receiver machine. While port number helps the OS to direct the information to the correct application running on the receiver’s machine.
  3. An IP address is facilitated by the network administrator. While Port number is facilitated by the OS.
  4. An IP address can be either IPv4 or IPv6. IPv4 can be at most 32 bits and IPv6 can be at most 128 bits. While Port number can be at most 16 bits.
  5. IP addresses are associated with the network layer of the OSI model while port numbers are associated with the transport layer of the OSI model.
  6. 195.165.0.5 is an example of an IP address and an example of a port number is port 25 reserved for SMTP.

Conclusion

The IP Address and the Port Number are two terminologies that are often used in networking. The difference between an IP Address and a Port Number is that an IP Address is a numerical label that is used to identify a certain device in a network, while a Port Number is a numerical value that is allocated to a specific process in a device.

 

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