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Addressing in TCP/IP, which falls in the OSI network layer, uses what is known as a 32-bit IP address. The phrase 32-bit means that 4 bytes are used to hold the data. The addresses usually appear to users in dotted-decimal form, such as 184.108.40.206.
Each decimal number ranges from 0 to 255. In most configurations investigators will also find what is known as a subnet mask, which may look something similar to 255.255.255.0. Although the mechanics of creating and using subnet masks involve complex math such as binary-to-decimal conversions and bit shifting, a subnet mask is simply a way of identifying on which network the IP address is located and whether the computer or network device needs to send the outgoing packet of data to a router.
This form of addressing works well for systems, but most humans would prefer a friendlier name. This is why the domain-naming system was created to map IP addresses to a friendly name and vice versa.
Using the domain-naming system, each computer or network device uses a hierarchy of domain name servers to translate the numbered addresses to names and names to numbered addresses.