Can IP Addresses Be Recycled?
The seemingly complex IP (Internet Protocol) address system is essential to enable efficient data transfer from device to device. The address indicates the location of an internet-connected device. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers oversees the IP address allocation process. The nonprofit usually assigns IP address blocks to namespace organizations like internet providers, who then reallocate these to customers and the general public. The customers include organizations looking to buy IP addresses.
The question in the title is fascinating because, in theory, there are limits to the number of IP addresses that can be made.
How Are IP Addresses Allocated?
For a better idea about how the addresses are utilized, it is important to understand the way in which these are distributed. IP addresses can be classified into two forms: ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Static’.
These are generally allocated through an internet provider. The ISP will put together a dynamic address pool using the numerous IP addresses they get. When a customer demands an address, that ISP chooses one from the pool and gives the customer it. After that, the customer leases it for a period, or up to the time their agreement lasts.
The customer holds the address until his or her contract with the ISP ends. When it ends, the address returns to the aforesaid dynamic pool. After that, the same address can be assigned to a different customer. This means it is possible to recycle these forms of IP addresses.
As the name implies, a static IP address is one that an ISP assigns to a user and that remains the same. Network administrators or big companies tend to use static addresses. The address will stay registered to a single owner up to the time the lease lasts or situations change. This kind of IP address is usually not recycled, but it is subject to how long the address is utilized for. For instance, imagine that an organization has been having an address for a decade and can lease it, but they are winding up. In this situation, the address will return to circulation and it will be reused in the future.
This sort of IP address is allocated to just a single device or network adapter, but it can certainly be recycled. So an entity can get the same address more times than one (but this is less likely because of the vast number of single addresses out there).