What is IPv4, IPv6, Default Gateway, FTP and PPP

What is IPv4?

IPv4 is the most common type of IP address in use on the internet today. Since IP addresses were first invented there has been several major revisions to them, and IPv4 is the fourth of those overhauls. IP addresses use Binary code in order to communicate on networks between computers, and IPv4 uses what is known as 32-Bit format as part of this.

This means that the total number of unique IP addresses using the IPv4 format is equal to 2^32 addresses, which is around four billion addresses. Since each and every device that connects to the internet needs a unique IP address, this means that only four billion devices can connect to the internet in total. This is not ideal, since the internet and the amount of people using it is always expanding and it is expected that the number will soon outnumber four billion. Therefore IP address systems are continually being updated and refurbished to suit the growing needs of the world’s computer users and potential future users.

  • What is IPv6?

IPv6 is the newest and most recent type of IP address that has been invented to use on the internet today. Because IPv4 only provides four billion possible unique IP addresses, IPv6 was developed to expand this amount and provide other, better updates to the service as well. IPv6 uses what is known as a 128-Bit format, meaning that the total number of unique IP addresses using the IPv6 format is equal to 2^128 addresses, approximately three hundred and forty trillion trillion addresses.

This means that far more devices in the future can connect to the internet with a unique address. IPv6 also offers users other benefits, such as improved network capabilities and more secure connections between computers. IPv6 has been around since mid 2012 and the changeover is still in process, and will likely take several more years to complete. This is because it takes time to lengthen the addresses of devices which already have IPv4, however all new devices produced since that time which are capable of connecting to the internet have embraced IPv6 as the industry standard and been made with it preinstalled.

  • What is a Default Gateway?

When information is transferred across networks, including across the internet, it does not go straight from one point to another. Instead it is sent from one point to another to another until it finally reaches its destination. These interim points are known as gateways, or sometimes nodes, and without them it would be impossible to transfer information effectively. A default gateway is the main entry and exit point for information on a network.

For example, on a home broadband network connecting to the internet, the default gateway is the router in the home which transfers information from the home network out into the internet. Sometimes a gateway can be located at the service station of the company which provides a network’s internet services – this is common when a network does not have its own router, such as older dialup connections.

In most instances the default gateway of a home network is connected to the IP address given to the router which provides this service. Larger networks, such as those found in businesses with many devices and subnets, can often have more than one default gateway for security purposes and to improve the efficiency of information transfer on the network.

  • What is PPP?

PPP, or Point-To-Point Protocol is a set of rules which define how information can be passed over a connection between two devices which use a serial interface. This means devices which are using a connection that can only transmit 8 bits of data at one time (known as a byte). This is a very simple connection which has been around for over two decades, and is good as it only requires one wire, but is considered slow by modern standards.

PPP works with the TCP and IP protocols to ensure reliable transmission of data over a serial connection, such as that between a computer and a dialup internet modem. PPP was developed in the 1990’s to replace an earlier protocol by improving the security and speed with which data could be transferred. PPP was later altered to work with DSL internet connections, and its name was slightly altered to PPPoE (Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet).

Serial interface connections have largely been replaced now by more modern connections such as Parallel interfaces and USB connections, and so PPP is not as commonly used now as it once was. It is, however, still the standard for communication between dialup modems and devices which are connected to them.

  • What is FTP?

FTP, or File Transfer Protocol is a set of rules which define how files are transferred between two computers over the internet. This protocol works alongside TCP and IP protocols to dictate how ASCII Plain Text files and Binary files are sent safely and quickly from one computer to another over an internet connection.

Use of FTP requires the use of a client-server relationship. This means that in order to use FTP, you need to have a client programme to run it. Many computers come with these preinstalled, and they are usually simple command-based interfaces. However graphical interface client programmes can also be bought or downloaded commercially from other companies too, which can make using FTP easier and simpler.

FTP is very commonly used to upload and download web page files to and from the server which allows everybody else on the internet to view them, and is also used for most instances when you download files from any server on the internet to your own computer.

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