IPv4 vs. IPv6: What’s the Difference?

What is IPv4?

IPv4, also known as Internet Protocol version 4 was developed in the early 1980s. An IPv4 address consists of four numbers, ranging from 0 to 255. Each number is separated by a period. This means that combinations can be made for 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses. In the 1980s this was more than enough. However, in today’s era of smartphones and laptops, we’ve quickly run out. Nowadays, IPv4 carries 94% of Internet traffic and is therefore considered the primary IP.

What is IPv6?

IPv6, also known as IPng (Internet Protocol next generation) is the most recent version of Internet Protocol. It was deployed in the late 1990s to fill the need for more IP addresses. IPv6 has a 128-bit address space or 340 undecillion addresses and is represented as eight groups of four hexadecimal digits. The binary bits of IPv6 are separated by a colon (:).

Key differences between IPv4 and IPv6

The deployment of IPv6 brought more IP addresses and more functionality. For example, IPv6 has a new feature called autoconfiguration and supports multicast addressing. Furthermore, it allows devices to connect to several networks at the same time and stay connected.

When it comes to speed and security, IPv4 has significantly been updated and optimized over the years. Therefore, the difference between both versions is not big. 

Other key differences between IPv4 and IPv6 are:

  • IPv4 is a 32-bit IP address. IPv6 is a 128-bit IP address.
  • IPv4 allows 4.3 billion addresses. IPv6 allows 7.9×1028 addresses.
  • IPv4 has a dot-decimal notation. IPv6 has an alphanumeric addressing method.
  • IPv4 supports broadcast whereas IPv6 doesn’t support broadcast.
  • IPv4 offers 12 header fields. IPv6 offers 8 header fields.
  • IPv4 has DHCP or a manual configuration whereas IPv6 supports autoconfiguration.
  • IPv4 uses Address Resolution Protocol to map to MAC address. IPv6 uses Neighbour Discovery Protocol to map to MAC address.

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