IP address are similar to your home's street address, but they identify a computer or device on a network. The network can be your local network at home, or the Internet itself. IPs Addresses consist of 4 sets of numbers, each containing 1 to 3 digits and separated by a full stop. Commonly called a 'dot' when referring to the address in conversation. For example, 192.168.0.1 would be referred to "192 dot 168 dot zero dot 1". Without IP addresses, sending data to and from PCs would be impossible. In the same way you couldn't send a parcel to a friend interstate, if you didn't know there postal address.
Local IPs are generally assigned by your router/modem or an on site server in some cases. They will generally look like this:
These are also called private IPs and are only relevant to your internal network. These numbers are not unique to any device out side of your network. For example, you cannot have a PC and smart-phone on your WiFi network, both using the same IP. However, you could have your PC and your neighbours smart-phone use the same IP, as long as they were connected to separate networks(routers).
Generally, these are not used in troubleshooting, setting up or working with Hosting services. However, your local IT contractor will work with these on a regular basis.
This is the important IP address when dealing with Hosting related issues or questions. These are unique and no two devices can share the same IP. For example, below is your current external IP, which is assigned by your ISP:
You can also visit sites such as www.whatsmyip.com.au, which will show your IP address.
The external IP is some handy info to provide with any support tickets or queries, because it is a unique address, it can be used to look up logs and various other troubleshooting tasks.
Dynamic and Static IPs
The last thing to be aware of with IP addresses, is the difference between a static IP and a Dynamic. Both local and external IPs can be dynamic or static, depending on your particular setup.
Dynamic IP Address
A dynamic IP is an address assigned by your ISP or modem/router via a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server for a limited period of time, normally 24 or 48 hours. These will automatically change after the time has expired, or sometimes when you reboot a modem or device. The IPs are assigned from a pool of addresses configured by the DHCP server. Because of the flexibility of a dynamic IP, it is generally a cheaper option for an ISP.
Static IP Address
A static IP is fixed, and will not change. These are preferable for business grade services and are standard on any sort of a server, including Hosting Australias servers. Most ISPs will charge a premium for you to have a static IP assigned.