If you are new to computing and the first time you come across so-called IP addresses is when you are in the set-up pages of your first wireless internet CCTV camera, this very basic two-part guide is for you. It’s a quick introduction to IP addressing and its role in the computer network.
Here in part 1, I’m going to explain what an IP address is and how it works within your home network of wireless internet CCTV cameras. In part 2 I will expand on this to explain how IP addresses are used outside your home, to enable computers and internet cameras across the world to communicate with each other.
Things that are attached to a modern computer network need to have some sort of standard way of being identified if they are to be communicated with. If I am in the supermarket and hear an announcement “Will the owner of that nice car please move it”, nobody will know to whom that message is addressed. But if the announcement is “Will the owner of car registration number RU 679 EDW please move it”, then we will all know the car in question, because the car’s unique registration number is included in the message. It is the same in computer networks. Each piece of equipment that is destined to communicate on a computer network, whether a PC, a router, a printer or a wireless internet CCTV camera, has a unique set of numbers so it can be identified. This unique set of numbers is what we call the IP address.
The IP address is actually not truly unique, but unique within its own neighborhood or network. For example, all of the IP addresses that are used for communication across the internet are unique. Similarly, all of the IP addresses in the network in your home will be unique within your home. (By network, I mean the router, computers and internet CCTV cameras in your home). However, your home network’s IP addresses may be, and almost certainly are, the same as IP addresses in millions of other homes. Your laptop may have exactly the same IP address as your neighbor’s laptop. Fortunately this does not matter, because your neighbor’s laptop cannot ordinarily communicate directly with yours, rather the message has to go via the internet where it will take on the internet IP address of your home network, which is unique.