Internet protocols

Within TCP/IP there are several key protocols. These include the following.

IP address

Every device on the internet has a unique IP address. The IP address is included in a data packet. IP addresses are either 32-bit or 128-bit numbers. The address is broken down into four 8-bit numbers (each is called an octet). Each octet can represent a number between 0 and 255 and is separated by a full stop, eg

To find your IP address you can use the ipconfig command line tool.

Home and small business routers often incorporate a basic dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) server which assigns IP addresses to devices on a network.

Did you know?

The 32-bit IP address system is also known as IPv4. It allows for just over 4 billion unique addresses. IPv6 is now coming into use. IPv6 uses 16 bits for each section of the address, creating a 128-bit address. This allows almost 80 octillion unique IP addresses.


FTP is used to transfer large files. It is often used for organising files on a web server for a website. You can have private access to an area on an FTP server where you can upload your files. You can then give another user access to download the documents that you have shared.


HTTP transfers web pages from web servers to the client. All web page addresses start with http. An https address is a secure web address which has been encrypted. An https address is used for sites holding bank details and secure information.


Email uses these protocols to communicate with mail servers. SMTP is used to send the email; POP is used to receive email. Most email clients allow for transfers of up to 10 MB.


VOIP is a set of protocols that enables people to have voice conversations over the internet.