Computing - Language

IP Address, MAC Address, Packets and Protocols

IP Addressing

An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two principal functions: host or network interface and identification and location addressing. The designers of the Internet Protocol defined an IP address as a 32 bit number. Example = 0000:0000:0000:0000:3257:9652

MAC addressing

A media access control address (MAC address) is a unique identifier assigned to network interfaces for communications on the physical network segment. MAC addresses are used for numerous network technologies, including Ethernet. MAC addresses are most often assigned by the manufacturer of a network interface card (NIC) and are stored in its hardware, such as the card's read-only memory or some other firmware mechanism. If assigned by the manufacturer, a MAC address usually encodes the manufacturer's registered identification number and may be referred to as the burned-in address. It may also be known as an Ethernet hardware address (EHA), hardware address or physical address.


It turns out that everything you do on the Internet involves packets. For example, every Web page that you receive comes as a series of packets, and every e-mail you send leaves as a series of packets. Networks that ship data around in small packets are called packet switched networks.

On the Internet, the network breaks an e-mail message into parts of a certain size in bytes. These are the packets. Each packet carries the information that will help it get to its destination -- the sender's IP address, the intended receiver's IP address, something that tells the network how many packets this e-mail message has been broken into and the number of this particular packet. The packets carry the data in the protocols that the Internet uses: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Each packet contains part of the body of your message. A typical packet contains perhaps 1,000 or 1,500 bytes.

Each packet is then sent off to its destination by the best available route -- a route that might be taken by all the other packets in the message or by none of the other packets in the message. This makes the network more efficient. First, the network can balance the load across various pieces of equipment on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis. Second, if there is a problem with one piece of equipment in the network while a message is being transferred, packets can be routed around the problem, ensuring the delivery of the entire message.


A communications protocol is a system of digital message formats and rules for exchanging those messages in or between computing systems and in telecommunications. A protocol may have a formal description. Protocols may include signaling, authentication and error detection and correction capabilities.

created by - james dolphin 10g