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The IPocalypse And Domain Names

Published February 5, 2011

Yes, the last IP addresses under IPv4 have been doled out. No, the Internet will not collapse in on itself and yes, you can still register domain names.

There appears to be a bit of confusion in some corners as to how the depletion of IPv4 addresses affects domain names and web sites - the situation is sometimes being referred to as the IPocalypse.

Some blogs are mentioning that every time a domain name is registered, it is assigned an IP address and with the last batch of IP addresses now released, a situation is evolving where an IP will not be able to be assigned to a domain name.

An IP address is part of the Domain Name System (DNS). It's a set of numbers and a unique identifier - but it doesn't necessarily identify a single site or domain. It can be associated with many, many domains and their web sites; hosted on one or multiple servers. 

An IP address associated with a domain points to a nameserver - a machine that acts as local directory of sites and domains hosted by a company.  While some web sites do have unique IP addresses, known as a dedicated IP, most domains "share" that IP with many other account holders. 

This is the way it has been for many years in website hosting. The system works well, will continue to and most web hosts have a "stockpile" of IP addresses to last for a while for their own internal use and for their customers who need dedicated IP's. 

So have no fear - while the depletion of IP addresses under IPv4 and the consequent transition to the much more robust and scalable IPv6 system will certainly pose some challenges; registering a domain name and building a web site associated with the name - and having it hosted - certainly won't be a problem for the vast majority of small businesses and hobbyists. Additionally, the old IPv4 system will continue to work in tandem with IPv6.

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