Monday 6 June 2022

URL and IP Address

In order to find what you want on the internet, you need to have a pointer of where to find it. URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) and IP addresses are just identifiers used for this purpose. The main difference between URL and IP address is what they point to. An IP address basically points to a computer, whether it is the physical hardware or a virtual one as in the case of shared hosting. In comparison, a typical URL contains the protocol to be used (i.e. HTTP, FTP), the domain name or IP address, the path, and optional fragment identifier. It is obvious to see that an IP address can be part of a URL, although it is more common to see a domain name instead of an IP address.

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Because majority of URL use have the domain name instead of the IP address, it is necessary to process the request through a Domain Name Server (DNS) in order to convert the domain name into an IP address. Without the DNS, the request would fail as the computer would not be able to find the host. The development of URL stemmed from the fact that IP addresses are a lot more difficult to remember than words that are related to the site’s content or purpose.

One thing that the internet is facing right now is the rapid depletion of the IP address pool due to the rapid growth of the internet. That is why IPv6 was developed to increase the maximum number of IP addresses that can be used. On the other hand, there is virtually no limit to the number of possible URLs because there is no limitation to the name. It is also very common for larger sites to have multiple URLs point to the same site to ensure that their users are not misled by people who might register the similar domain name.

To sum it all up, a URL is a more comprehensive pointer to what you want on the internet and where it is found. An IP address is just the address of the computer. Some computers may have a default behavior when accessed and typing the IP address on a browser would immediately use the HTTP protocol and go to the index page of the site.


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