IPv6 vs IPv4 Full Comparison

IPv6 vs IPv4: The Key Differences Explained

Sending and receiving information online is incredibly similar to how people send and receive mail and packages in the physical world. The system by which it is managed is called Internet Protocol. Internet Protocol has two key functions that allow computer users to send and receive a transmission.

The first task of Internet Protocol is to give out unique addresses to different computers, or hosts. Without a unique way to identify which host is which, sending information from one device to another on the network would be impossible. So just like the post office, internet protocol assigns an IP address to each host location. With IPv4, the IP address is made up of a 32-bit binary number. In IPv6, the IP address is a 128-bit binary number. With a unique IP address made of 32 or 128 bits, internet users can rest easy knowing that their information will get to its destination without security concerns.

The second task of Internet Protocol is to determine transmission routing. This is done through the network hardware component known as the router. Routers act as a delivery hub. For example, if a package needed to be sent from San Antonio, TX to Tokyo, Japan there are numerous pathways for the package to take to get there. However, once the package is delivered to a Hub, the hub will sort out the pathway with the quickest delivery speed. Routers do that same thing.

These two functions are what allow digital information to pass from one device to another anywhere in the world so long as they are connected to the open internet. This process is what allows for Xbox console gaming online and video streaming services, as well as traditional internet, uses like email.

IPv4 and IPv6 are nearly the same speed performance. IPv4 is technically a lighter-weight version as the binary number address is made up of 32 bits rather than 128 bits. The only performance lag that may be caused by internet protocol is through VPN tunneling. Some users may wish to use a VPN to mask their IP address for extra security, unfortunately, this means tunneling all transmissions through a third party which can have a seriously detrimental effect on internet speed and ping tests. However, the added security from anonymity provided by VPN tunneling has advantages that are hard to beat.

IPv6 vs IPv4
Internet protocol assigns an IP address to each host location. IPv4 is technically a lighter-weight version as the binary number address is made up of 32 bits rather than 128 bits.

IPv6 vs IPv4 Side by Side Comparison

IPv6 IPv4
What It isinternet protocolinternet protocol
Primary Userouting data transmission between computersrouting data transmissions between computers
Nameinternet protocol version sixinternet protocol version 4
Conceived19951970
Initial Release19951983
Influential DevelopersInternet Engineering Task ForceARPANET
Technical CommitteeIETFARPANET
Technology InfluencedThe worldwide web, servers, cloud computing, email, gaming, VPNThe worldwide web, servers, cloud computing, email, streaming, gaming, VPN

What is IPv6?

IPv6 is short for Internet Protocol version 6. Even though it is labeled as version 6, IPv6 is the second major internet protocol released. The Internet Engineering Task Force sought to upend IPv4 as the original ARPANET-created internet protocol only allowed for four billion unique IP addresses. This number was at first thought to be an obscene amount, but time proved that it was nowhere near enough.

IPv6 replaced IPv4’s IP address system that used 32-bit binary numbers with a 128-bit IP address. This allows for near three hundred and forty trillion, trillion, trillion unique IP addresses. For now, this new limit is considered to be large enough that every person on the planet can own a billion devices and there would still be IP addresses left to assign. Having more complex IP addresses also increases user security. IP addresses in the past have been used to dox, or locate real-world information on internet users, in the past. The 32-bit address system was limited and could easily be tracked, while the IPv6 has a much more complex address system that is not as easy to surf through by malicious actors.

IPv6 is considered to be the internet protocol of the future, even though IPv4 is still responsible for 94% of internet traffic.

IPv6 Features:

  • Hierarchical addressing and routing infrastructure
  • Stateful and Stateless configuration
  • QoS support

What is IPv4?

IPv4 was the first interaction of internet protocol deployed by ARPANET in 1983. It uses a 32-bit address system to define unique addresses to the different internet-connected hosts. However, IPv4 only allowed for four billion possible unique addresses. At the time of its release, this was thought to be plenty for the foreseeable future. They were very wrong.

The address limitation caused the Internet Engineering Task Force to develop a solution that would not fall to the same shortcomings. Thus, IPv6 was born.

IPv4 Features:

  • Connection-less protocol
  • Allows for virtual communication layer over diversified devices
  • Requires less memory
  • Heavily supported protocol

Key Differences:

  • IPv6 uses 128-bit IP addresses while IPv4 uses 32-bit IP addresses.
  • IPv6 uses an alphanumeric addressing system. IPv4 uses a numeric addressing system.
  • IPv6 binary number bits are parsed by a colon. IPv4 binary number bits are parsed by a dot.
  • IPv6 only offers eight header fields while IPv4 has twelve header fields.
  • IPv6 does not support broadcast while IPv4 does.
  • IPv6 does not have checksum fields. IPv4 has checksum fields.
  • IPv6 does not support Variable Length Subnet Mask (VLSM). IPv4 does support VLSM.
  • IPv6 uses Neighbour Discovery Protocol (NDP). IPv4 uses Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)
IPv6 vs IPv4
Modern cityscape and communication network concept, illustrating the IoT (Internet of Things).

IPv6 vs IPv4: Ten Must Know Facts

  • IPv6 was created by the IETF to overcome the limitations of IPv4.
  • IPv6 is known as the internet protocol of the future.
  • IPv4 is responsible for 94% of internet traffic.
  • IPv4 is limited to four billion unique IP addresses made of 32-bit binary numbers.
  • IPv6 has an unrealistic limitation on unique IP addresses at three hundred and forty trillion, trillion, trillion.
  • Average users will find it hard to see a difference in speed or performance of IPv4 vs IPv6.
  • IPv4 has used all four billion available unique addresses.
  • Both IPv4 and IPv6 can exist on the same network which is called Dual-Stack.
  • IPv4 and IPv6 are not able to communicate with each other.
  • The Domain Name System, DNS, is what allows for website URLs to be text rather than binary number strings.

IPv6 vs IPv4 Full Comparison FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is IPv6?

IPv6 stands for internet protocol version six. It was created to surpass the limitations of IPv4 which is largely considered to be the backbone of the internet. It was designed by the IETF and supports over three hundred and forty trillion, trillion, trillion unique IP addresses.

Should I use IPv4 or IPv6?

Newer devices should be set to use both protocols, but if one protocol has to be chosen over the other, choose IPv6. IPv6 will be the dominant protocol in the future. As there is no difficulty in switching between which protocol to use, it is best to use the combination option of IPv4/IPv6 to use the advantages of both protocols. Home entertainment units like the Xbox will allow for IPv4/IPv6 switching as it was created by Microsoft. Xbox is not the only example of a device that can use both protocols. Most modern personal computers have this option as well.

How is IPv6 different from IPv4?

IPv6 uses a larger address system that allows for much more unique addresses to be assigned.

What is IPv4

IPv4 was the first deployed internet protocol created by ARPANET as a way to transmit and receive data transmissions from devices connected to the same network, the internet. 94% of internet traffic is organized and run by IPv4. However, the 32-bit address system used by IPv4 only allows for a specific number of unique addresses that have been reached.

What Are the pros and cons of IPv6 vs IPv4?

Ipv4 is a lighter-weight protocol that still has advantages over IPv6. While IPv6 may be the internet protocol of the future, IPv4 has support for VLSM, broadcast, and checksum fields that IPv6 is lacking. Unfortunately, using IPv4 is not recommended as the future push for IPv6 gains ground.

The downside to IPv4 is that it has run out of unique IP addresses to assign to internet-connected hosts.

Which is faster IPv4 or IPv6?

Most internet users will find it difficult to notice the speed difference between IPv4 or IPv6. However, IPv4 uses smaller IP addresses and therefore fewer resources. This means that running IPv4 in the background with other applications can appear to be more efficient than IPv6.

For example, a quick way to test the speed difference between IPv4 and IPv6 is a ping test. With a ping test, your computer will send a tiny packet to the closest server available in order to measure the time to get a response. This is what is known as ping. Ping test results will show in the form of milliseconds or seconds. When testing the difference between IPv4 and IPv6, IPv4 occasionally beats IPv6 due to its smaller address bit size.

Newer devices should be set to use both protocols, but if one protocol has to be chosen over the other, choose IPv6. IPv6 will be the dominant protocol in the future. As there is no difficulty in switching between which protocol to use, it is best to use the combination option of IPv4/IPv6 to use the advantages of both protocols. Home entertainment units like the Xbox will allow for IPv4/IPv6 switching as it was created by Microsoft. Xbox is not the only example of a device that can use both protocols. Most modern personal computers have this option as well.

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