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IPcalypse now?

The internet is full!

Well, sort of. Of course, the internet is just lots of individual computers connected up - it can't run out of space as long as we keep adding new computers to it. But it can run out of addresses.

You see, the internet addresses we know and love - URLs, like excite.co.uk - are just aliases. The real address, the unique identifier for a particular server on the internet, looks something like this: 82.41.226.145.

That's what's known as the IP address. And we're almost out of them. The system allows for over four billion individual addresses; but when you think that every PC, phone and tablet that connects to the internet has its own IP address, it's hardly surprising that we're running low.

We mean, really low. We've only got a little over a week's worth of addresses left. Experts predict the last address will be registered some time on 2 February. They're calling it the 'IPcalypse.'

Now, relax: the internet isn't going to break. A new system is in place to take over, which uses much longer addresses with trillions of combinations. But not all ISPs have it up and running yet, so though new websites will carry on being registered, they might not be visible to everyone straight away.

Our advice? No need to stockpile supplies, but if you're with a small ISP you might want to search their website to see if they're up to date...

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