IPv4 Vs IPv6: Difference Between Them Explained

Last Updated: October 21, 2022
Which is faster: working or playing video games? Learn the key distinctions between IPv4 vs IPv6 by reading this article.
IPv4 Vs IPv6: What's The Difference
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When it comes to routing and directing packets for networking devices like computers, laptops, and fiber switches over a single network or a collection of interconnected networks, the Internet Protocol (IP) is one of the most effective communication protocols in the Internet Protocol Suite (IPS).

IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) and IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) are the two most current versions of the Internet Protocol (IP version 6).

What is the difference between IPv4 and IPv6?

Which is faster: working or playing video games? Learn the key distinctions between IPv4 vs IPv6 by reading this article.

Difference Between IPv4 and IPv6:

Before delving into the particulars of each internet protocol, it’s helpful to acquire an overview of their key distinctions.

IPv4IPv6
In IPv4, the address length is 32 bits.The IPv6 address length is 128 bits.
Both manual and DHCP address settings are supported.Automatic address configuration and renumbering are both supported.
Connection integrity is unachievable in IPv4 end-to-endConnection integrity is achievable in IPv6 end-to-end
It has a 4.29 109 address space generator.IPv6’s address space is vast, with a maximum output of 3.41038 addresses.
Security functions are application specific.IPv6 incorporates Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) as a standard safety measure.
IPv4 addresses are represented as decimal numbers.The IPv6 address format is a hexadecimal representation.
Fragmentation carried out by the sender and forwarding routersFragmentation carried out by the sender and forwarding routers
Flow identification in IPv4 packets is not available.Flow label field in IPv6 packet headers can be used for flow identification.
A checksum field is accessible in IPv4.There is no checksum field accessible with IPv6.
The Message Broadcasting Transmission Scheme is implemented.IPv6 supports both the multicast and anycast messaging transfer schemes.

What Is IPv4?

IPv4

In the context of the Internet, IPv4 refers to the fourth generation of protocols.

This enables us to connect our gadgets to the internet and is the fundamental technology for the internet to function.

The Internet Protocol (IP) address is a numeric identifier, like 99.48.227.227, given to every device connecting to the web. 

A data packet, including the IP addresses of both devices, must be sent over the network to transport information from one computer to another via the internet.

Pros
  • Short, understandable, and simple to remember
  • Widely supported by the web’s top sites
  • Technology that has been verified and tested
Cons
  • A lack of new IPv4 resources and addresses.
  • Subnetting issues

Most of the 7.75 billion that inhabit the world now utilize two or more technological devices.

There are now more devices than available IP addresses, and IT professionals have to resort to “tricking” devices into sharing IP addresses.

IPv4 address reuse is typically accomplished by Network Address Translation (NAT).

Network Address Translation (NAT) allows several devices to share a single IP address, which helps reduce traffic load and preserve IPv4 address space.

Parts Of IPv4

 1. Network Part

This section of the IPv4 specifies the exact range used by a certain network. This portion of the IPv4 address specifies the specific network simultaneously.

 2. Host Part

Every device on your network will have its own unique IPv4 host component that serves to identify it uniquely.

That is to say, the network half is consistent across all hosts in the network, whereas the host half can be different.

 3. Subnet Part

With IPv4, the subnet mask is optional. Local networks with a large number of hosts are given subnet numbers.

Numbers aren’t given out directly but rather are assigned to subnets.

What Is IPv6?

Best IPv6 Proxies to Buy

IPv6 is the next-generation Internet Protocol (IP) address system that will work in conjunction with IPv4 and possibly replace it.

An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a numeric identifier that must be assigned to every desktop, smartphone, building automation component, Internet of Things (IoT) sensor, and other Internet-connected devices.

Pros
  • IPv6’s 128-bit architecture allows for the generation of 340 undecillion unique identifiers. More than IPv4.
  • Modern, state-of-the-art protocol, fully supported by up-to-date hardware.
  • No issues with subnetting
  • IPv6 is a more secure protocol than IPv4. 
Cons
  • Due to its more complex configuration, IPv6 is more prone to implementation mistakes.
  • Not all sites will work with it.
  • Extremely lengthy and not easy to keep in mind.

Due to the development of many linked devices, the primary IP address scheme, IPv4, is rapidly exhausting its supply of addresses.

IPv6 is a better long-term solution, yet IPv4 is still widely used.

Spending time and money to replace all of the routers, servers, and switches that have been using IPv4 for years is a huge undertaking.

With the growth of IPv6, compatibility issues have prompted the development of IPv4-to-IPv6 conversion methods such as:

  • Dual stacking permits the simultaneous operation of both protocols on the same device.
  • To fill the gap between IPv4 and IPv6 private networks, “tunnels” have been developed.

IP conversions are useful, but they introduce security holes that put networks at risk and open the door to hacking and data loss.

Because IPv6 is quickly becoming the standard, networks should use it exclusively.

Types Of IPv6 Addresses

Three types of IPv6 addresses are:

 1. Unicast Address

Unicast addresses can be contacted from anywhere in the world. In this configuration, an IPv6 interface is designated by its separate network.

When a router or switch gets an IP packet with a single host’s address as its destination, it forwards the packet to an appropriate result in significant reductions.

When a packet is addressed to an anycast address, it is transmitted to one of the interfaces identified by this address.

In most cases, it is given to a collection of interfaces that belong to several nodes.

 2. Multicast Address

When a packet is addressed to a broadcast group, it is broadcast to all the group interfaces that share that address.

Data for more than one host is delivered to a dedicated multicast address. There is widespread interest in multicast data; thus, all sites have opted in.

Those hosts that have joined the group’s interfaces will handle the multicast packet, while those that haven’t will discard it.

 3. Anycast Address

In every network, a group of interfaces belonging to several nodes will receive anycast addresses.

Why Was IPv6 Created?

Because of a lack of available IPv4 addresses, IPv6 was developed. Just over 4 billion addresses are available in IPv4.

In contrast, 4.66 billion individuals worldwide had an internet connection as of October 2020, with many owning multiple connected gadgets. So, new IP addresses will need to be added to the internet.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) predicted as early as the 1990s that IPv4 would soon run out of available addresses and that most internet-connected devices would ultimately outstrip the number of available IPv4 addresses.

To ensure sufficient addresses for the coming years, the IETF began developing a new 128-bit scheme.

Also, the term “32-bit” describes a specific means of representing a large integer with a fixed range of values (the four digits between 0 and 255).

Since there are more bits in a 128-bit system, it can store more digits.

The shift from IPv4 to IPv6 is still in progress, although thousands of ISPs have already decided to make IPv6 the new standard by 2012.

As our IPv4 address space rapidly approaches its maximum, this news comes at the perfect time.

IPv4 Vs IPV6

IPv6’s introduction not only resulted in a larger total number of IP addresses but also added features previously unavailable.

IPv6’s multicast addressing feature, for instance, spreads the load throughout the network by sending packet flows that often need a lot of bandwidth (like multimedia streams) to numerous receivers at once.

Is IPv6 a significant upgrade over IPv4? Put our curiosity to the test and see.

Autoconfiguration is a new feature in IPv6 that allows devices to automatically obtain an IPv6 address when they connect to a network after being powered on.

Initial device operation involves identifying a suitable IPv6 router.

If an IPv6 router is available, the device will use it to create both a local address and a worldwide routable address. Many IPv4-based networks require manual device addition.

By utilizing IPv6, devices can maintain connections to multiple networks at once.

Because of the hardware’s interoperability and configuration options, it can be given multiple IP addresses simultaneously.

We then compare IPv4 with IPv6 in terms of various criteria, including speed and safety.

Security

IPv6, designed with security in mind, is safer than IPv4 when used properly.

IPv6 incorporates a set of security protocols developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) called IP Security (IPSec) to ensure the safety of data transmissions.

When IPv6 initially came out, it necessitated that all network communication be encrypted using the widely-used IPSec protocol.

By encrypting your data before sending it over the internet, IPv6 ensures that no one can read it if they intercept it.

Nonetheless, IPSec can be deployed on IPv4; thus, in principle, at least, IPv4 can offer the same level of security as IPv6. 

This, however, has not gained widespread adoption because of the associated costs. The shift from IPv4 to IPv6 will undoubtedly result in a rise in IPSec’s popularity.

Although IPv6 will eventually become more secure than IPv4, some specialists claim that until that happens, IPv6 customers are probably more at threat of security vulnerabilities.

Speed

Multiple security companies conducted performance testing on IPv4 and IPv6-compatible websites and found no difference in throughput on direct connections between the two protocols.

More data, however, points in the direction of IPv6’s superior performance over IPv4. 

Research conducted by Akamai, for example, found that IPv6 outperformed IPv4 on the four most popular mobile networks in the United States.

One more is a finding by Facebook’s Engineering team: loading Facebook through IPv6 can be 10-15% speedier than loading it via IPv4.

IPv6 connections have an advantage over IPv4 connections due to their direct connection to the network.

IPv4 traffic must pass via stateful NAT servers because it is still significantly larger despite having lower packet headers than IPv6.

Autoconfiguration

Stateless address autoconfiguration is a key feature of IPv6 that was not available in IPv4 (SLAAC). To get an IPv4 address, a DHCP server was required.

With IPv6, the device only needs the router’s network ID (the first 64 bits) to build a full IPv6 address, but the host ID (the second set of 64 bits) can be generated locally. 

The router exposes its network address via periodic unicasts, which the device can discover by sending out a “router solicitation” (RS) to request it.

What, no DHCP server, is required now? There wasn’t any, to be honest. A DHCP server is still needed for IPv4 management, even in a dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 network. 

However, if you didn’t, the server is still required so that your devices can receive the other DHCP settings.

If you’d need tighter control over your IP address allocation, you may discover that a “stateful” configuration (similar to IPv4’s configuration process) is necessary.

Multicasting

IPv6 takes advantage of multicasting, which is another key distinction from IPv4.

It’s a way to communicate with a large group of people who have all indicated an interest in hearing the same message.

The ability to deliver a multicast message is available in IPv4, but it is not required; therefore, broadcasting is the more usual method of communication. 

It’s inefficient to send a message to any device on the network with the expectation that they’ll all find it relevant; doing so requires extra processing time and bandwidth.

For this reason, IPv6 does not support broadcast messages and makes multicasting a required feature rather than an extra.

IPv4 Vs IPv6 Coexistence

Even when the rest of the Internet transitions to IPv6, IPv4 and IPv6 subnets will continue to coexist, and several structures are in place to facilitate this.

These include 6th generation, NAT, burrowing, gateway server support, and Stateless IP/ICMP Translation (SIIT).

Most tactics can be communicated over firewalls and switches between the IPv4 and IPv6 networks.

The SIIT network uses the::/96 address space and performs the 32-bit IPv4-to-6-byte IPv6 address mapping.

This allows IPv6 hubs to connect directly to IPv4 hosts. IPv6 bridges IPv4 networks in the sixth (IPv6 fast organization).

It tunnels IPv4 traffic beneath IPv6. It has arrived with the help of Internet service providers.

Dual-stack intermediary servers can function in either direction, bridging IPv4 and IPv6 connections. Due to manual configuration, proxy servers are, at best, a temporary solution.

This indicates that the gateway can communicate with IPv6 networks. This capability is built into many modern corporate and consumer devices. 

However, a large number of legacy devices only support IPv4. Because of the need for a separate access point, IPv4-to-IPv6 translation takes place away from the customer’s network.

The use of a double stack is also likely to be required. IPv4 and IPv6 traffic can coexist in the same network. 

An application running on a dual-stack host can communicate with either device, and its traffic can be forwarded to the external world if necessary.

Even double-stack switches can function as portals.

IPv4 Or IPv6: Which One To Use?

There is no clear response when asked whether to utilize IPv6 or IPv4. The use of IPv6 addresses is crucial for the future of the internet.

There may be ways to continue using IPv4 addresses after we’ve run out of available ones.

However, doing so may have a negligible impact on internet performance or lead to other complications.

Perhaps most significantly, IPv6 could be essential to creating brand-new services and products.

IPv6 isn’t any quicker than IPv4, but it would provide the internet with a much larger pool of available IP addresses if everyone switched over.

If IPv6 is so much better, why are we still utilizing it?

IPv4 and IPv6 are incompatible, which is the root of the problem. Because of this, IPv6 adoption and implementation might be challenging.

Most current software and services only work with IPv4 addresses.

Let’s pretend we suddenly gave every gadget a new IP address. In such cases, most websites and apps would be inaccessible to users, and the web as a whole would be in shambles.

Why Is It Important To Protect Your IP Address?

IP Address

Many potential security and privacy risks, such as packet sniffing and spying, arise when an individual’s IP address becomes publicly known.

Hackers can learn personal details about you and your online banking activities by intercepting your network traffic at the IP level. 

Meanwhile, your online activity can be monitored by your home Internet service provider (ISP), the government, and other online businesses and organizations.

Some websites will not let you in based on the location information in your IP address.

Thus, they may restrict access based on location and the type of material available. They might even resort to fully cutting off your access to the site if necessary. 

Because of this, it’s crucial to protect your online anonymity with a VPN that encrypts data at rest and in transit.

You’ll be safe from hackers, snoopers, and other online menaces once you have a new virtual location and IP address.

Final Thoughts

This article explores and defines everything you need to know about IPv4 vs IPv6.

IPv6 addresses are 128 bits long, while IPv4 addresses only take up 32 bits.

IPv6 has a short header and a huge address space compared to IPv4.

To accommodate increasing requests for IP addresses, IPv6 expands the IP address from 32 bits to 128 bits.

IPv6 was designed to be more secure.

IPv6 incorporates the entire IP Security (IPSec) suite of IETF security protocols for protecting data, authenticating users, and encrypting communications.

However, IPv4 and IPSec can be fully integrated. You must now be able to decide IPv4 vs IPv6. 

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Written by Trevor Cooke

The only safe internet is a private internet. You’ll see me at parties talking about cybersecurity, privacy, and VPNs. Yes, I’m that guy.