Countdown to the "IPcalypse"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's said to happen on February 2 around 4 a.m. The Internet is scheduled to run out of current IP addresses. So what exactly does that mean for you?

Basically, your IP address is your way to use the Internet and every device you use. Whether it's a smart phone or computer, it gets a unique code called an IP address. You don't get the same address every time you use the Internet, but pretty soon you may not get any at all.

Today we use a system called the Internet Protocol version 4 (or IPv4) to give out those codes and there are about 4 billion to give out worldwide. That probably sounded like plenty back when this standard was introduced in 1981, but it was hard to foresee a computer in every home along with extra devices using the Internet.

Now, when we do run out of IP addresses, it won't mean the internet is over, so don't panic quite yet. We have guardian angels that foresaw this dilemma long before we did and created a system called IPv6.

The difference with this system is, instead of using just numbers, it will include letters in the code, making it a much bigger source for IP addresses.

Ideally, when we switch to this new system, people won't see or notice a thing. The only real problem that could happen in the days of "IPcalypse" is if enough networks don't move in a timely fashion. In this case, some people would literally see nothing because of their inability to connect to the Internet.

So I'm glad we had people to see this coming way before the deadline because, what if we weren't prepared in some way? Because of the fact that the Internet has become such a huge part of most people's lives and in some cases the internet is their life, I can only imagine their panic, anger, and inability to really live their lives.

So, as epic as the "IPcalypse" may sound, don't get too worked up about the transition because it will slip by around 4 a.m. on February 2 while you dream .


Ben Lucas January 25, 2011 at 8:26 PM  

I read about this a couple weeks ago. It's hilarious how no one knows a thing about a situation that could have catastrophically damaged every transaction/communication on the Internet. It's a good thing most smart businesses will be upgrading asap.

Steven Chappell January 26, 2011 at 8:39 AM  

I imagine it will be a lot like Y2K -- lots of hype, little if any actual reality.

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