Don’t panic, but the Internet is running out of IP addresses. 

The system that allocates IP addresses, known as IPv4, was created way back in 1977(!). That system has room for 4.3 billion addresses, “with one coded address assigned to each computer, phone, tablet reader or gaming device that can access the Internet,” reports UPI

Decades ago, that seemed like more than enough. But last month, ICANN, the non-profit organization charged with allocating IP address globally, was reported to have handed out the last remaining IP address blocks.

Since an IP address is the physical address of your website, and since most of us are actively working to create more and more websites, this is an issue that’s on a lot of minds right now. 

So, what happens now?
A new system has been planned, called IPv6, and it reportedly has an almost infinite amount of IP addresses. But some experts think that transitioning to the new system will created a glitch that could affect all of the Internet — obviously something to be avoided.

Big companies like Google and Microsoft and some computer producers have been working on this transition for years, so it isn’t a surprise. “Google has already flipped the switch on many of their services, and some ISPs are already silently rolling out IPv6 to subscribers,” reports Entrepreneur’s Chris Head. “And most recent operating systems provide at least basic IPv6 support.”

So what’s the difference?
“Hopefully, the transition will go so smoothly that no one will notice,” writes PCMag’s Samara Lynn, “until they find their IP address now contains letters!”

Under the new system, IP addresses will be longer, and more complicated, with more characters. But to the average affiliate marketer, no real difference should be noticed — unless you’re very heavily involved with the techmical side of web development, in which case you likely already know all of this. 

“So when the last available IPv4 address has been doled out, does that mean your router, iPad , laptop or other devices won’t be able to connect to the Internet?” Lynn continues. “No. Devices you currently use at home already have an associated IP address and won’t be affected.”

Even given that, some glitches could appear. “Smaller ISPs may slip through the cracks and not make the transition completely or in a timely manner,” Lynn continues. “There’s bound to be newer devices that come to market that may not work at first with IPv6. Some websites may experience DNS hiccups as DNS records are added and edited to support IPv6.

“Those who host their own websites, have a registered domain or are responsible for a business network should be more vigilant,” Lynn adds.

The advice typically communicated by experts, then, is to contact your web service provider and ensure that they have plans for transitioning to the new  system. If not, you may want to think about switching providers. And if that’s the case, you’ll want to get started right away.

For more info and advice, check out the Internet Society’s highly informative FAQ about the new IP address system.


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